SOU earns top Campus Pride ranking for LGBTQ-friendliness

(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University has been recognized by Campus Pride for the sixth year in a row as one of the nation’s Top 30 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities.

Campus Pride is a nonprofit that supports and improves campus life for LGBTQ people on more than 1,400 U.S. campuses. The Campus Pride list is considered the most reliable list of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.

SOU earned five out of five stars on the Campus Pride Index, which ranks universities in each of eight categories: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts. SOU drew five-star rankings in six of the categories and four-and-a-half stars in the other two.

Thomas Arce, coordinator of SOU’s Queer Resource Center, said the recognition from Campus Pride is a testament to equity and inclusion efforts throughout the university.

“Southern Oregon University’s commitment to LGBTQ+ student success is unparalleled,” Arce said. “That includes living in the residence halls, accessing health and wellness resources, finding a community to befriend, studying queer and feminist scholars, and simply thriving in an inclusive and affirming campus environment, where it’s OK to be one’s authentic self.

“I’m grateful to be part of the many collaborative ventures with students, faculty and staff to make the LGBTQ+ experience at SOU prideful.”

SOU was also named as one the of the nation’s top LGBTQ-friendly universities by Affordable Colleges Online in 2018, with special recognition given to the Queer Resource Center and the university’s gender-inclusive housing.

The Campus Pride list of the top 30 LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities included three Oregon institutions: SOU, the University of Oregon and Portland State University. Only three other states – New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – had three colleges or universities on this year’s list.

Arce said that some of the activities and services that make SOU stand out as welcoming to LGBTQ students are the presence of sexual orientation and gender identity in the university’s non-discrimination policy; gender-inclusive housing options; the stand-alone Queer Resource Center; and LGBTQ-related academic offerings through the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. SOU also participates in LGBTQ-specific college fairs and its counseling and health staff provide queer- and trans-friendly services.