An inclusive campus atmosphere is integral to welcoming and encouraging Portland State’s diverse population. New D2L modules like “Creating a Safe Campus: Preventing Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault” help educate students on retaining a positive environment.
In 2015, PSU was ranked in the top 30 LGBTQ-friendly universities on the “Best of the Best” list. According to Campus Pride Index, a nonprofit organization to create safer environments, PSU ranks 4.5 out of 5 stars in LGBTQ-inclusivity.
The index highlights the Queer Resource Center and ranked PSU’s counseling and health services as the highest contribution to the LGBTQ community. The index marks categories where PSU succeeds and where there is still room for improvement.
PSU makes the cut on most of these lists, such as providing health insurance to cover same sex partners, ally programs and safe spaces and zones, LGBTQ studies and course offerings, as well as inclusive career services. However, PSU is currently lacking an LGBTQ alumni group and LGBTQ fraternities and sororities.
Assistant director of the QRC, Kirsten Keith, believes PSU has made giant strides in becoming a more LGBTQ-friendly campus. This includes the non-discrimination policy, trans healthcare, and training for staff and faculty about LGBTQ issues.
Keith is also happy that the QRC is helping contribute to the cause. “The Queer Resource Center has been available to students for the past 10 years as a center of community and support for queer and trans communities,” Keith said. The QRC provides an abundance of services for the LGBTQ community, as well as volunteering opportunities and events to speak about specific issues.
However, Keith is always looking for ways to further improve campus life. “We are always interested in expanding our work to be more affirming and supportive for queer and trans students,” Keith said. “We hope to implement a climate study soon to get a sense for where the campus can improve.”
The index marked off points for PSU’s Housing and Residency life, although Keith doesn’t believe this rating to be accurate.
“The QRC and Housing and Residence Life work closely to make sure queer and trans students have a welcoming housing environment,” Keith said. “The QRC trains housing staff annually and housing staff have made several efforts to consider how best to support queer and trans students.”
Campus life can always improve, but even given the rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars in this area, Keith still believes it is a strong part of PSU’s inclusivity, which can make incoming freshmen feel a lot more comfortable in their dorms.
Another strong point to PSU’s open campus is the availability of the QRC. If someone is interested in joining or being a part of the group to help with advocacy or other events, volunteering is the best opportunity to help spread the word and make new friends.
“The QRC is a very public space, so if you’d like to meet with a staff member outside of the QRC, we are always happy to meet anywhere on campus,” Keith said. “Coming to events and programs is another great way to get to know the QRC.”
For more information, visit the QRC website to find out what the group is doing and to check up on future events or volunteer opportunities.