Students hope OU doesn't stop with LGBT-friendly recognition
OU was named one of the most LGBT-friendly colleges in the state of Oklahoma and sees this as part of efforts to build an inclusive community, a university official said.
The Equality Network, or TEN Institute, recognized OU as one of the few higher education institutions in the state to improve their policies for LGBT members. University spokesman Michael Nash said the university is happy about the news.
“The university constantly works to create an environment in which all students feel comfortable and safe," Nash said. "This family atmosphere allows students the opportunity to better succeed in the classroom and the community."
In a report released last week, the network said OU has made minor gains in enacting protective measures for its LGBT students, faculty and staff. Specifically, OU changed its non-discrimination policy to include sexual orientation.
Some agree this is a move in the right direction.
“Our administration has done what it can, they have made a welcoming community,” Former GLBTF President Laurel Cunningham said. “I appreciate the notoriety from The Equality Network.”
President David Boren has been sensitive to the subject and has done what he can to make this campus accepting, Cunningham said. However, she said she feels there still is work left to be done.
There needs to be bigger structural change, such as Sooner ALLY training for resident advisors to help queer students in their living situations, Cunningham said.
Others are happy about the TEN Institute news but also see this only as the first step in many that need to be taken to realize OU’s efforts for inclusion.
“It is encouraging, but I am afraid that they might stop because of the gain,” said Elizabeth Rucker, a former Students for a Democratic Society member. “Needs do not stop there.”
Bullying of all kinds has gained exposure in the mainstream media in middle and high schools, but it does not stop when students get to college, Rucker said.
She also said more policies should be changed, such as the passing of gender-neutral housing and a more comprehensive sexual education for OU members. These alterations would put the non-discrimination policy in action, Rucker said.