For the fourth consecutive year, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has earned a perfect five-star rating on the Campus Pride Index and again is on the “Best of the Best” list from the preeminent resource for tracking LGBTQ-friendly policies, programs and practices in higher education.
Campus Pride is the preeminent resource for LGBTQ leadership, development, diversity inclusion and advocacy within higher education.
The five-star rating is not easily achieved and signals a campuswide effort to create a place that is welcoming to all, says Dr. Christopher Jorgenson, director of the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center at UW-Eau Claire.
“There are currently 45 campuses in the U.S. with a five-star rating,” Jorgenson says, “It’s difficult to achieve, as it requires ongoing institutionwide commitment. However, the ‘Best of the Best’ designation from Campus Pride in late August is bestowed upon only 30 of those schools. We’ve been chosen among those with five-star ratings for several years now.”
Campus Pride scored UW-Eau Claire at a perfect five stars for LGBTQ inclusion in the categories of:
- Sexual orientation.
- Gender identity/expression.
- Student support and institutional commitment.
- Student life.
- Housing and residential life.
- Campus safety.
In its 2021 Best of the Best announcement, Campus Pride found intersectionality to be “at the heart of UW-Eau Claire’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion,” and described the campus as a place where “LGBTQIA+ students and allies are supported institutionally and individually with an eye toward their personal growth and campus experience.”
A few of the specific programs and resources cited by the website were gender-neutral restrooms across campus; The Bridge LGBTQIA+ space in the Davies Student Center; Q Fest, a student-run queer film festival; and the annual Fire Ball drag show fundraiser.
Jorgenson is especially proud of the work that the GSRC has accomplished throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in maintaining the five-star rating for campus, and he looks forward to more goals that his office and campus allies seek to accomplish.
“I am proud that during an unprecedented public health crisis we have sustained our mission to support our queer students as best we can,” Jorgenson says, noting that while the GSRC has had to focus on largely virtual delivery of support and services, the center is working to expand both The Bridge student space and the Rainbow Floor queer living communities in campus residence halls.
“We are determined that UW-Eau Claire, a regional public university in the heart of the Midwest, serve as a national example that queer people should be prioritized and celebrated no matter their location.”