UWL earns high ranking as LGBTQ-friendly campus
A leading online organization that ranks affordable colleges has given UW-La Crosse a high ranking for being one of the most inclusive campuses for LGBTQ students in the nation.
AffordableCollegesOnline.org (ACO) ranks UW-La Crosse No. 6 among the Top LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges for 2018-19.
Willem Van Roosenbeek, director of the UWL Pride Center, is somewhat surprised with the high ranking since UWL was compared with larger universities. But, he says UWL has been working hard for more than a decade to get up to par and maintain that progress.
“We work diligently to keep the campus moving forward,” says Van Roosenbeek. “We work hard to educate faculty, staff and students. When hate or bias occurs, we address it and work harder.”
Van Roosenbeek says UWL has caring faculty and staff who are willing to learn and grow as the LGBTQ+ community expands and changes.
“Students come to UWL because they know about the Pride Center,” he notes. “Potential faculty and staff look at the Pride Center web page and see the Friendly Faces page, which encourages them to look at UWL a little more.”
Van Roosenbeek says UWL has been a leader in LGBTQ+ equality. The Pride Center was started in the early 1990s when University Center staff worked with faculty, staff and students to determine needs of the lesbian and gay population on campus.
“We were the first comprehensive to hire a part-time director,” he explains. “We have been exploring gender-inclusive housing for about eight years and we have a Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies major and minor. We have listened to our students, faculty and staff.”
Van Roosenbeek says UWL continues to be at the forefront of things like getting a preferred name and gender question added to the general application for UW System. And, UWL has been an active participant in the LGBTQ+ System groups fighting for equity and inclusion.
Despite the progress, Van Roosenbeek says UWL continuously looks for ways to improve. “Gender-inclusive housing needs more attention and is closer to being what students are looking for,” he says. “The Office of Residence Life is working on making traditional halls an option for gender-inclusive housing.”
Van Roosenbeek says the campus is moving closer to having gender-inclusive bathrooms in every building. “We will continue to educate, advocate and make UWL one of the best schools for LGBTQ+ students and employees,” he says.
“We will continue to educate, advocate and make UWL one of the best schools for LGBTQ+ students and employees”
General criteria used to identify the most LGBTQ-friendly colleges for 2018-19 included:
• Accredited, not-for-profit, four-year public or private institution.
• Offers students a professionally run LGBTQ support center staffed by at least one paid professional or graduate assistant directing LGBTQ resources.
• LGBTQ scholarship or scholarship resources offered.
• Gender-inclusive housing.
• LGBTQ clubs, organizations and events offered.
“We wanted to highlight the schools that are dedicated to creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone,” says Dan Schuessler, CEO and founder for AffordableCollegesOnline.org. “These schools are leading the charge in helping LGBTQ students find an inclusive campus that will support their personal and academic needs.”
AffordableCollegesOnline.org’s LGBTQ-Friendly Top 10 rank
1. University of California-Riverside
2. University of Utah
3. University of Illinois at Springfield
4. Rutgers University
5. The University of Texas at Dallas
6. UW-La Crosse
7. Southern Oregon University
8. University of California-Irvine
9. North Carolina State University
10. UW-Eau Claire.
AffordableCollegesOnline.org began in 2012 to provide quality data and information about pursuing an affordable higher education. Our free community resource materials and tools span topics such as financial aid and college savings, opportunities for veterans and people with disabilities, and online learning resources. We feature higher education institutions that have developed online learning environments that include highly trained faculty, new technology and resources, and online support services to help students achieve educational and career success. We have been featured by over 1,000 postsecondary institutions and over 100 government organizations.