The Campus Pride Index, the most widely recognized assessment of LGBTQ+ inclusivity on college campuses, recently awarded Kenyon a five-star rating for the 2019-2020 academic year. The national metric evaluates campus inclusivity using a set of eight criteria, including academic life, housing and campus safety. Its exclusive five-star distinction is currently held by only 38 colleges and universities across the country and only three in Ohio. Campus Pride, in partnership with BestColleges, also named Kenyon as as one of the top 25 schools in the U.S. for LGBTQ+ students.
Assistant Director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) Timothy Bussey applauded the campuswide effort behind Kenyon’s recognition. “The work of diversity, equity and inclusion is everybody’s work, and it takes a lot of really intentional investment across departments to get five stars,” they said. “This achievement shows that we recognize that there are equity and inclusion-based needs for our LGBTQ+ students. We’re willing to put research, intentionality and empathy behind solutions to the problems that queer and trans students face, and we have a track record of doing so.”
In recent years, the ODEI has concentrated its efforts on LGBTQ+ health and safety, partnering with the Equitas Health Institute to coordinate an LGBTQ+-specific cultural humility training for Cox Health and Counseling Center employees and introducing a new process for trans and nonbinary students to express their housing needs and desires. The office also helped institute a stand-alone “Introduction to Queer Studies” course in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program, and in April 2021, Kenyon will again host its biennial Queer and Trans Studies Conference, an interdisciplinary colloquium highlighting queer and trans scholarship, activism and community building.
Inclusivity work expands beyond Kenyon’s campus as well. Later this summer, the ODEI will continue its partnership with the Equitas Health Institute, and Kenyon will host them for LGBTQ+ cultural humility trainings aimed at local health providers across Knox County. Bussey also plans to continue their work as an NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam program facilitator, working to make college athletics more inclusive for LGBTQ+ student-athletes. Kenyon also plans to continue its participation with the nearby Newark Ohio Pride Coalition’s Pride Festival, held this fall.
Despite the good news from the Campus Pride Index, Bussey is clear that their excitement is not a sign of complacency. “A five out of five rating doesn’t mean the work is done,” they said. “We let students’ needs guide our work, and our plan is to keep listening.”
—Ben Hunkler ’20