(Cleveland, OH) - Campus Pride has released its 2020 Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities list, and for the first time in school history, Kent State University has landed on the distinctive list as one of 40 institutions recognized over six U.S. regions. Kent State is the only school in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and in Northeast Ohio to receive this honor.
For nearly 20 years, Campus Pride has supported college and university campuses to improve LGBTQ campus life for students. The 2020 Best of the Best College and University list is based on information provided on an annual basis, through the Campus Pride Index, relating to policies, programs and practice.
According to Ken Ditlevson, director of Kent State’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Plus (LGBTQ+) Center, it has been a work in progress by way of a self-evaluation process each year that contributed to the national recognition.
“Accomplishments such as incorporating trans-inclusive healthcare for faculty and staff, a preferred name policy and integrating universal restrooms are what put us over the top,” he said. “The fact that Kent State is in the top 40 is a major accomplishment and something I am really proud of.”
For Ditlevson, who started in his position in 2016, he has used Campus Pride as a benchmark and roadmap to where he wanted to see the university go with its LGBTQ inclusion.
“Kent State was a 3.5 out of 5 on the scale when I first came in, so we used the Campus Pride index to reflect on what we were doing well and what areas we should be striving to improve in,” he said. “It has been really helpful in identifying what we should take on next, not just to improve our score but to improve the environment at Kent State to be more responsive to students and our community.”
Kent State currently has a perfect overall score of 5 on the Campus Pride Index.
LGBTQ+ Center intern Kayla Cagwin said it is a source of great pride that Kent State is so accommodating to students on campus.
“It means so much to me personally as a queer student to know that Kent State supports diverse populations,” Cagwin said. “I am honored that I get to be a part of a team that does so much to make Kent State a safe and inclusive space for everyone in our campus community.”
That outreach extends beyond the campus and includes potential students each year that visit.
“It’s really cool when we have families and parents that come in for a tour because they see our score,” Ditlevson said. “So people see that, and then they come to Kent State and get the tour, and it’s like a no-brainer. They love everything about the campus.”
As Kent State looks to the future and maintaining the mark, Ditlevson is quick to point out that the progress is a real community effort.
“It is not just our center [that should get all the credit]; we have a council that includes representatives from all over the university, including regional reps and folks that come around the table,” Ditlevson said. “It is a real conversation amongst the group so we can come to a consensus about how we are meeting this expectation.”
To view Campus Pride’s 2020 Best of the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges and Universities list, visit www.campuspride.org/2020BestoftheBest.
Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students, as well as campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1,400 campuses annually. For more information about Campus Pride, visit www.campuspride.org. For more information about the Campus Pride Index, visitwww.campusprideindex.org.
Photo courtesy of Kent State University
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