Moving On Up: Stockton Earns 4.5 Stars in Campus Pride Index
By Van Nhi Ho
In working to make Stockton University an inclusive environment, offices and departments such as the Women's Gender & Sexuality Center (WGSC) have initiated policy changes and created dynamic programming that centers LGBTQ+ students. Follow the journey to being nationally recognized for this with Van Nhi Ho, graduate coordinator for LGBTQ+ initiatives in the WGSC.
The Campus Pride Index (CPI) is a nationally recognized assessment that evaluates universities on their LGBTQ+ friendliness. The index assesses institutions on a range of criteria, including policy, residential life, student development and retention, student life and much more. The rating system provides resources and information for potential LGBTQ+ students, helping them make informed decisions about where they wish to pursue their higher education. Stockton received 4.5 stars in the latest assessment.
When Stockton was first evaluated on the CPI, it received 3 out of 5 stars. While this rating indicated that the university had some support and resources for LGBTQ+ students, it was evident that there was room for improvement. Recognizing the need for change, the WGSC embarked on a journey toward enhancing its inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ+ community. We knew we needed to start the change internally.
This began with starting conversations with faculty on how they can make their classrooms and curriculum inclusive. These conversations began to inspire change through student organizations and different faculty departments to create those internal changes for our LGBTQ+ students.
Below are the major changes observed that led to the rating increasing 1.5 stars:
Stockton University reviewed and updated its policies to ensure that they were LGBTQ+ inclusive. This included changes to non-discrimination policies like Title IX, housing and restroom accommodations.
Counseling & Health
Stockton began to encourage and promote students to use support services for LGBTQ+ students. This includes providing resources for mental health, support groups like Transcendence – a group for transgender, transitioning and/or questioning students – and Ace Space – a group for asexual, aromatic, demisexual and/or grey students – and foundation programs like "A Whole New Closet," which offers transgender applicants financial assistance for their transitioning needs.
It was of utmost importance for the Stockton community to actively promote and support LGBTQ+ student organizations. These organizations include Pride Alliance and the Queer/Trans People of Color Society, also known as QTPOCS. Encouraging students to create safe and brave spaces provides a platform for students to connect, advocate for and celebrate their identities.
Additionally, we began organizing LGBTQ+ celebratory events and programs, such as PrideFest, to foster a sense of community and belonging for students. October was been filled with events that celebrated and acknowledged LGBTQ+ history, including our 2023 Pride Flag Raising, the "Just Say Gay” March, showcasing the Cured Documentary, a panel discussion with out (of the closet) professionals and many more that are upcoming this semester.
The impact of these institutional changes has been significant... The increase in the Campus Pride Index rating to 4.5 stars reflects the dedication and hard work that the university has put into creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students."
The university launched various educational initiatives to raise awareness about LGBTQ+ issues and promote inclusivity, including workshops and training for faculty and staff and LGBTQ+ history events. In addition, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality minor has contributed to this score as it offers a wide range of topics for students interested in learning more about advocacy work and the history of women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights.
The impact of these institutional changes has been significant.
Students at Stockton University report feeling safer, more supported and valued in the campus community. The increase in the Campus Pride Index rating to 4.5 stars reflects the dedication and hard work that the university has put into creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ students.
Stockton University's journey from a 3-star rating to a remarkable 4.5 stars on the Campus Pride Index is a testament to our commitment to fostering a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming campus environment. By implementing changes in policies, support services, and education, the university has made significant progress in supporting its LGBTQ+ community. This transformation not only benefits the LGBTQ+ students at Stockton University but also sets an example for other institutions looking to create more inclusive and welcoming environments for all their students. It's a testament to the power of dedication, awareness and action in making higher education more equitable and accessible for all.
If you are interested in learning more about these resources, how to get involved in the community, or become an ally, please check out the WGSC homepage or check out our resource on Being LGBTQIA+ at Stockton.
About the Contributor
Van Nhi Ho is the coordinator for LGBTQ+ initiatives in the Women's Gender & Sexuality Center and a graduate student. She has recently become a member of the Campus Committee on Diversity & Inclusive Excellence.
Galloway, N.J. – The annual flag raising for LGBTQ+ History Month on Oct. 3 was one full of emotion, joy and support for the LGBTQ+ individuals both part of and beyond the Stockton University community.
President Joe Bertolino reminded attendees that their presence on campus is not only valued but mirrors his own experience as a gay undergraduate student.
“I started my career in higher education 33 years ago, and at that time, I was advised as a residence hall director that there was a gay glass ceiling: if you were out, then you could forget ever becoming a dean or a vice president, let alone a president,” Bertolino said. “To the naysayers in 1990: I want to share that this is actually my third presidency. My husband, Bil, is the vice chancellor of the Rutgers University system, and together, we smashed that ceiling.
“I share that with you because I want you to know that no one can tell you that being who you are will hold you back. Be authentic. Be honest. Be you and celebrate that. We take pride in our diverse identities and are committed to creating a space where students can authentically be themselves and explore their identities. As long as I am the president of this institution, I will make sure that every student is seen and that they feel that they belong here in our community.”
– Story by Loukaia Taylor
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