Members of Geneseo’s LGBTQ Issues Working Group sent information in the form of a free questionnaire to campusprideindex.org, a national nonprofit organization, last semester. By using a tool that gauges a college’s LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index, Geneseo received a 3 out of 5 ranking. This website grades colleges on eight LGBT-Friendly Factors: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health and recruitment and retention efforts.
Associate professor of English and founding member of the LGBTQ Issues Working Group Alice Rutkowski explained that school’s location and size were also important factors.
“One of the places we got 5 stars is on LGBT student life,” Rutkowski said. “I can’t say precisely––like I don’t know the algorithm for how they decide––but I would say that it is because our Student Association group Pride is totally extraordinary.”
Rutkowski noted that one of the areas Geneseo scored the worst on was LGBT recruitment and retention efforts.
“For that, for example, our college doesn’t have any specific programs,” she said. “When they’re going out and asking students to apply, there are no particular programs to attract students on the LGBTQ spectrum. At the moment, there are no particular programs in place to keep students here.”
After receiving this middle-of-the-road score, Rutkowski said the school is currently working on ways to improve our LGBT Friendly Campus Climate Index, such as revitalizing Safe Zone training, getting a full-time administrator to help LGBTQ+ students and more.
“Dean of [Curriculum and Academic Services] Savi Iyer and Dean of Students [and Director for the Center of Community] Leonard Sancillio have been working on a name change policy for the college,” Rutkowski said. “So for example, if you’re a trans student and you haven’t changed your legal name––say you’ve transitioned from being designated female at birth and now you identify as a man but you haven’t changed your legal name yet––there now is a procedure at the college so you can have that name changed so it will show up on course rosters as you want.”
Rutkowski noted that the college has been supportive in filling out the questionnaire, especially since it asked questions of departments that Rutkowski and co-founder residence director of Onondaga Hall Ray FeDora didn’t have the information to answer.
“The college wanted this survey done and we did it with the collaboration of the people at the college,” Rutkowski said. “The idea is that it helps us diagnose where we are compared to other institutions.”
On the Campus Pride Index website, one can see the ratings of all other schools who participated in this voluntary survey. In comparison to other schools that participated, Geneseo falls flat. Both SUNY Binghamton and SUNY Potsdam received a 4 out of 5, SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Oneonta received a 3.5 out of 5 and SUNY Morrisville got 2 out of 5 stars.
Rutkowski wasn’t surprised with Geneseo’s rating. “It was about what I expected,” Rutkowski said. “Everyone wants to help and do the right thing. We have a lot of good things going on, but they’re not really centralized yet.”