January 20, 2016
Johnson State College has been designated one of the nation’s top LGBTQ-friendly colleges in recognition of its inclusive, welcoming and respectful environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people.
The recognition comes from Campus Pride Inc., a national, nonprofit organization based in Charlotte, N.C. Established in 2001, the group publishes an online “Campus Pride Index” rating more than 200 U.S. colleges from one to five stars on their “LGBTQ-inclusive policies programs and practices in higher education.”
Johnson State College received an overall 3.5 star rating, earning the highest scores for housing and residence life, academic life, student life and campus policies related to LGBTQ issues. Only two other Vermont colleges, Sterling College and the University of Vermont, are deemed LGBTQ-friendly by the organization.
“JSC has long been known as a welcoming and inclusive community, so it’s nice to have that officially recognized with regard to our LGBTQ community members,” said David Bergh, dean of student life and college relations. “Sustaining an inclusive community is ongoing work, and we’re committed to continually improving and enhancing the experience of our students, faculty and staff who identify as LGBTQ.”
Among other things, JSC has an active LGBTQ student organization on campus, offers gender-neutral housing and restrooms on campus, sponsors educational and cultural programming related to LGBTQ issues, and has a scholarship for transgender students.
“I’m thrilled and grateful to be attending a college that is designated LGBTQ-friendly,” said senior Randa Morris of Richford, Vermont. “As current president of the JSC Pride Alliance, I find that this campus is a wonderful place to interact with other LGBTQ students. It’s a community I hope to continue being a part of long after graduation.”
Pride Alliance Vice President Chantel Haslam, a sophomore from White River Junction, echoed that sentiment. “Hearing that Johnson State College was designated LGBTQ+ friendly is very rewarding. We all work very hard to make sure that every single student has the support and acceptance they need surrounding gender, gender expression, sexuality, and other LGBTQ+ issues,” she said.
Added senior Chris Austin of Swanton, Vermont, “From my personal experience and from working as a resident assistant at JSC, I know that Residence Life and other college departments have taken big steps to make sure everyone feels safe and welcome, including bringing Outright Vermont and other LGBTQ+ friendly organizations to campus for ally trainings, which are mandatory for new residence hall assistants and advisors. I am proud to be an LGBTQ+ student at JSC, and I hope that things only get better from here!”
Situated in Vermont’s Green Mountains near Stowe, Johnson State College is a leader in high-impact, liberal arts education that takes students into the laboratory, the field and the community through internships, research, study away, civic engagement and other career-building opportunities. On campus, JSC offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs, with signature programs in education, health and environmental sciences, wellness and alternative medicine, and fine and performing arts. Off campus, its award-winning External Degree Program offers online courses and weekend-only classes in four Vermont communities.
The Campus Pride Index is based on research into LGBTQ programs, practices and policies shown to create safer, more inclusive campus learning environments. The index tool was updated with new and higher LGBTQ national benchmarks in 2015. To view the report for JSC, visit www.campusprideindex.org and search on the keyword “Johnson State.”
PHOTO: Members of the JSC Pride Alliance participating in Burlington’s fall 2015 Pride Parade show their pride. (Photo by Ellen Hill)