Like a chef whose restaurant just earned a top rating, URI was especially proud last fall when Campus Pride gave us a five-star rating for our LGBT-friendly policies, programs, and practices. It is recognition that our efforts to create an inclusive, safe, and inviting environment for all students are succeeding. The rating makes URI one of the top 50 LGBT-friendly universities in the nation.
“I have experienced nothing here besides welcoming support and identity validation,” said junior Mara Migdalski, an animal science major. “I see making the top 50 as a sign of the incredible progress toward inclusivity this campus has made.”
The annual report from Campus Pride, the leading non-profit organization working to create a safer college environment for LGBT students, indicates that we’re among the best of the best. URI received a five-out-of-five star overall rating, as well as five stars in all but one category measured, with 4.5 stars for the other category. The top marks are for LGBT inclusion policies, support and institutional commitment, student life, housing and residential life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. The second-best mark was for LGBT academic life at URI.
URI was especially proud last fall when Campus Pride gave us a five-star rating for our LGBT-friendly policies, programs, and practices.
“This is truly a testament to the hundreds of people on and off-campus who have worked so diligently to improve campus life for LGBTQ people,” said Annie Russell, director of the URI LGBTQ Center. “Many thanks go to the legions of folks around the URI campus who have worked to make our institution a better place for everyone. “
“Coming from a small town I always felt that I couldn’t talk about my sexuality with my peers without being judged or creating an awkward space,” said freshman Henry Thompson, an engineering major. “But here at URI I feel the freedom to speak my mind and still be taken seriously without pause. There are a multitude of safe spaces on campus for anyone of any intersectional identity and a strong queer network on campus for incoming freshman.”
Soon, life at URI for LGBTQ students will get even better with the opening of our new LGBTQ Center, which is nearing completion and will be the first freestanding LGBTQ center to be constructed at any university in the country.
The Center will have a multipurpose room with a capacity of about 50, a conference room for about 20 people, a group counseling room, and a student lounge. There will be offices for the director, three staff members, and student staff members.
“We are looking forward to having the new facility to continue to grow our programs and services for URI and the surrounding community in decades to come,” Russell said.
The staff of the current LGBTQ Center, located in Adams Hall, started 27 new programs, services, groups, or initiatives in 2011-2012 and added more than 50 the following fall. Last year alone, the Center hosted more than 100 programs, and participation is growing. And the URI programs and approaches have been adopted by 15 other institutions nationwide and one internationally—yet another reason for showing our Rhody pride.