Colby-Sawyer Scores Four-Star Rating Out of Five

LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index looked at 400 schools

By David Hart, Colby-Sawyer ‘13

Colby-Sawyer College strives to provide a welcoming social and academic environment to students of all nationalities, belief systems, and lifestyles, always working toward an ideal representation of a diverse and interconnected world. The national non-profit organization Campus Pride has rated Colby-Sawyer with four out of five possible stars for its efforts and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) friendliness.

Founded in 2001, the volunteer-driven network Campus Pride monitors and promotes American colleges’ and universities’ efforts to provide inclusive, prejudice-free atmospheres for their LGBT students. In addition to projects such as their LGBT-Friendly College Fair Program and Campus Pride Summer Leadership Camp, the organization conducts the ongoing LGBT-Friendly Campus Climate Index.

Nearly 400 institutions, including Colby-Sawyer College, have participated in the index, which provides a detailed assessment of a school based on eight factors: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, student life, housing, campus safety, counseling and health, and recruitment and retention efforts.

Colby-Sawyer earned four out of five stars, particularly shining in the areas of policy inclusion, student life, campus safety, and counseling and health. Some of the school’s notable LGBT-friendly elements include the Safe Zones student group, which works to create a welcoming environment and holds weekly meetings; open and supportive faculty and staff; and gender-neutral bathrooms in Colgate Hall and several residence halls.

Colby-Sawyer also holds LGBT-friendly events throughout the year, such as screening The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Diversity Awareness Week, a Drag Ball, and National Coming Out Day.

Resident Director Erin O’Dea, the LGBT point person for Residential Education, spearheaded Colby-Sawyer’s participation in the index. “Having Colby-Sawyer included in the Campus Pride Index is a great way to gauge how we are doing with our LGBT initiatives while also promoting our status to college-bound LGBT students looking for a school that has their interests and well-being at heart,” she said.

After months of researching Colby-Sawyer’s policies and offerings regarding the LGBT community, O’Dea completed Campus Pride’s extensive form, submitted it, and waited. “When our score of four out of five possible stars came back, I was thrilled,” she said. “It was nice to see a final, cumulated score after seeing all the positives that the research revealed.”

Despite her satisfaction with the four-star rating, O’Dea acknowledges the potential for progress. “While this rating gives us a great source of pride and is a talking point for individuals considering attending Colby-Sawyer in the future,” she says, “it also lets us know where we would like to improve. I look forward to the day we earn that fifth star.”

Associate Professor of Social Sciences and Education Kathleen Farrell expressed a similar sense of achievement. “For a small school with limited resources, I think we do a great job,” Farrell said. “Our Campus Pride Index report card has identified areas in which we need to improve, but we should be very proud of receiving an above-average score. In the last few years, we have come a long way.”

President Tom Galligan explained what such a positive rating means for Colby-Sawyer as a growing and changing institution. “Our recent Campus Pride rating is evidence of what a positive place this is for everyone,” he said. “I am optimistic about our continued growth in this area and our constant commitment to learning together to understand and employ multiple perspectives. Our goal is to try to make the world a better place.”

View Colby-Sawyer College’s full assessment at