IU Receives Top Ranking for GLBT Support

Posted on September 3, 2011

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KEVIN WANG

Indiana University Bloomington recently received a top ranking from a national organization for its support of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender community. After thoroughly assessing eight criteria, the organization – Campus Pride – gave IU a five-star rating.

Campus Pride is a non-profit organization that works with college students across the country to create an LGBT-friendly environment on campus. University officials said they were certainly proud of the rating but not at all surprised. Those who have been working for years to make IU more LGBT-friendly said the rating was simply the best return for their hard work.

Doug Bauder has been working as the coordinator of IU’s GLBT Student Support Services Office on campus for 17 years. On his desk, a stack of cards says, “Welcome Home.” But Bauder said the office was not welcomed at all when it was opened in the midst of storms back in 1994. One of the many issues they faced was a lack of financial support from the state.

“There were state legislators who said they would withhold funding from the state budget if this office opened,” Bauder said. “Two and a half million dollars; that was the threat.”

Back then, Indiana State Legislator Woody Burton explained his concern about the GLBT office in a letter he sent to a publication editor. He wrote, “Indiana University’s sole mission is to educate. However, it seems strange that IU would use taxpayers’ dollars to promote a lifestyle that is contradictory to overall teaching in our country.”

That letter is now stored in an archive book in Bauder’s office. The book records all the steps and revolutions the office has gone through over the years. Thanks to former IU President Myles Brand who helped to shift the budget to from public to private funding, the office was able to survive. With the support from the University and other offices, the GLBT office soon took off on campus.

“We got up and running, collaborated with lots of offices and departments,” Bauder said. “ Students started coming into our office, and we were really touched by the cooperation we have but also the need for providing a space on this campus where people feel safe and can talk about their issues.”

The office currently has 10 student staffers and about 30 volunteers. Senior Eric Gonzoba has been working in the office since the end of his sophomore year. Now he is the office outreach coordinator.

“I’m interested in diversity,” Gonzoba said. “I’m interested in GLBT issues and the right of GLBT students to have a safe and equal environment in college, so I don’t think I have ever felt the opposition to working here.”

The rating looked at criteria such as academics, student life, safety, counseling and health. In terms of the overall support for GLBT equality, officials said the increasing diversity awareness on campus makes IU one of the 33 schools to get the five-star ranking.

“We are trying to create an environment that is so comfortable that everybody feels like IU is a home away from home,” said Eric Love, director of Office of Diversity Education. “They will do their best work. It will benefit the institution. It will benefit the individuals, and enhance the education experience of all students.”

The director of Campus Pride, Shane Windmeyer, actually earned a master’s degree from IU. However, officials said that this did not give IU any advantage in the assessment process. Windmeyer actually looked at IU even harder when he returned to do field evaluations. Officials also said that although the University is facing cutbacks, the GLBT events will see only a minimal effect since they are funded privately through the IU Foundation or individual donations.

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