SMU Not Happy About Landing on Princeton Review's "LGBT Unfriendly Schools" List. Again.

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While Dallas ISD is debating a change to their rules in order to make their campuses more gay-friendly, two local universities have landed, once again, on the Princeton Review's list of "LGBT Unfriendly" schools. Released last week as part of Princeton Review's mammoth collection of college rankings, the list ranks SMU as the 12th most LGBT-unfriendly school in the nation, and University of Dallas in Irving as the ninth (Texas A&M also clocked in at No. 10). As our friends over at the Dallas Voice noted, Baylor is off the list, after appearing there for the past several years. One of those universities is vocally fighting their inclusion, saying the rankings are based on crappy methodology.

"We don't feel this accurately reflects the climate on campus," Karen Click told us emphatically. She's the director of SMU's Women's Center, which also houses Spectrum, their LGBT student organization. "There are a lot of policies, budgetary initiatives and programmatic initiatives at SMU that do support the LGBT community in ways that most universities do not," she added. She listed domestic partner benefits for faculty and staff, nondiscrimination policies for LGBT students, four on-campus LGBT student organizations, and two full-time staff that work with queer students among the things that SMU does to make the school a better place.

"To see us ranked this way is a little bit frustrating," she said.

Sounding tired, Click added that she's been fielding phone calls about this list for five years, ever since she took the job.

"I spend time talking to reporters about this on an annual basis," she said. Meanwhile, University of Dallas, a Catholic school seems, shall we say, not too surprised about their inclusion. They sent over a statement describing their campus as "enthusiastically Catholic," but noting that they "are focused on providing a supportive environment to all of our students. We believe that all human persons are made in the image and likeness of God and deserve love, respect, and compassion. Within that framework, the religious and secular activities and events on the UD campus are open to all students regardless of their race, religion or sexual orientation."

Last year, Click said, SMU submitted a formal response to the Princeton Review, a private company with headquarters in Manhattan. "It didn't make a difference in the ranking for last year," she said. "We now have a worse ranking, in fact."

More frustrating to Click and other SMU administrators, though, is the fact that the ranking seems to be based on the way SMU students answer just one question on an 80-part survey submitted by college students around the country. A school is listed as LGBT-friendly or not based on how students respond to the query, "Do students, faculty and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identify/expression?"

"As an administrator whose job is to support the LGBT community on campus, the Princeton Review doesn't tell me anything that's helpful," Click said. "Last year we participated in the Campus Equality index through Campus Pride, a college-based national non profit. They ranked us four out of five stars for LGBT support. But more importantly, they gave us a big list of areas we're succeeding and areas we can improve." It's not clear how many SMU students actually responded to the survey or specifically answered the LGBT question

Harvey Luna and Sammy Partida are both 19-year-old sophomores at SMU and co-presidents of Spectrum, the largest LGBT student organization. "We're not a perfect institution, but we definitely shouldn't be on that list," Luna said. "SMU has been actively trying to make it an inclusive campus." He pointed out several faculty who are openly gay, but added that the school still needs to create gender-neutral housing and restrooms and add an LBGT student senator to the student government.

Partida agreed, adding that the Review's survey question was "too vague." "They need to be able to define what 'very little' means, and what type of discrimination we're talking about, at least." He said he'd heard about the rankings two years ago, when he was still a prospective student. "I entered the school knowing about the ranking, and I chose it in spite of that. When I went on my prospective tour, I thought the ranking wasn't reflective what I'd seen there."

Partida and Luna say that Spectrum wants to submit a letter to the Princeton Review, calling the ranking "inaccurate and misleading." "There might be a small set of students who don't necessarily have a positive outlook on LGBT issues," Luna said. "But there are a great many more who are actively helping the LGBT students through Spectrum to denounce homophobia."

Finally, we called David Soto, the director of college ratings at the Princeton Review, to chat about their methodology.

"We work directly with the administration to administer a survey on each of the campuses," he told us. "We survey the student body and collect a representative sample. That's how we're able to tally the LGBT friendly and unfriendly lists, along with our other rankings."

Soto too pointed out that SMU has been on this list four of the last five years."But they're also on several of our 'good' lists," he said, including "Great College Town," "Most Accessible Profs," "Best Athletic Facilities" and "Best Career Services."

"I don't think SMU would refute the good lists they're on," Soto said. "So I think calling our methodology into question is really not a legitimate thing to do, when we also laud them for doing great things on campus."

Soto added that often the Princeton Review lists lead campus administrations to "creative initiatives to change behavior," something that's happened previously with universities that land on the "Party Schools" roster.

"We applaud SMU for taking the right steps and moving in the right direction," he said. "However, the student sentiment on campus is still that it's number 12 on this list. If administration feels this is not accurate, we're more than happy to re-survey and see where SMU lands next year."

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22 comments
DanielWindham
DanielWindham

Im an SMU student, and I've never seen any issues regarding gays on campus. My concern is that Princeton Review obviously knows that their lists make a difference to universities, in a bad and good way. So why would they pretend that their surveys are factual or accurate without asking over 10 questions. Better yet, why promote the publicity and seriousness of their surveys that have under-represented data. 

Besides, get upset at us for having too much greek life, if anything.

Bigtexxxx2008
Bigtexxxx2008

Does that mean Love Great Big Titties?I can't believe the frat boyz wouldn't rank pretty high on that scale!!!!!

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Well there is that little issue that it's home to the Presidential Library of a President who's re-election campaign was based on banning gay marriage, because they were suppose to be a "threat" hetero marriage:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F...

which is about was as true as Saddam Hussein's WMDs and his Al Quaeda connections were. In that case, I'm glad he was as effective at that as he was in finding Osama bin Laden.

Also, the head of W's Foundation is Karl Rove, who's speciality is using Gay baiting as a cornerstone for the GOP to win elections. Remember Karl's wishper campaign againt Gov. Richards? She was running a Lesbian coven out of the Governors' Mansion.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Gay Prom is at SMU every year, what gives? Ethier way, its a another Politcial issue in this town.

Catbird
Catbird

Give me some of that famous GLBT tollerance will ya? I mean, folks at SMU ain't exactly tyin' gays to trash cans 'n throwin' 'em in the deep end of the cement pond are they?

Just like everyone else, homosexuals still have to settle up with the Lord when its all over but that's really a personal issue....microinequities will always abound.

It's in the Bible I think.

MattL1
MattL1

Great.  My alma mater made that list as well.  Every damn year!

Montemalone
Montemalone

I have to say, in the mid-eighties, SMU was pretty gay friendly to me.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

During the school year, the Dallas gay bars and bath houses do land office business because of SMU. While the school administration may not be gay friendly, and the kids only pretend to be straight because of 'daddy's dough', outside of UNT and Baylor, the kids really are alright and are gay in good numbers.

Joey
Joey

Maybe SMU is shooting itself in the foot.  The question is "Do students, faculty and administrators at your college treat all persons equally regardless of their sexual orientations and gender identify/expression?"

SMU appears to respond by saying "but we treat LGBT students as special!", as in this article

Maybe the other students see favoritism, not discrimination.

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

They should covet it as a badge of honor much as the do the Bush Lie Dairy

John_McKee
John_McKee

And from the Spectrum website "The contents of this Web site are the sole responsibility of Spectrum, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Southern Methodist University." Hmm...

John_McKee
John_McKee

Maybe the fact that their gay organization is part of their Women's Center is a sign.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I do think the Bush library figures into this ranking, but you forget that the majority of staff and admin opposed the Library.  But, anyone who can consistently support one party, isn't cleaving to facts first. 

Montemalone
Montemalone

Never understood how gay marriage was more of a threat to marriage than heterosexual divorce.

gladnotsad
gladnotsad

Gov.Anne was an underestimated funny and Classy woman who regularly walked in Zilker Park, being most gracious to everyone.  She deserved a second term but, in my opinion was undermined by Clinton ( who pulled the plug on the super collider-not a popular move in the scientific community here) and an inefficient  re-election organization.Rove is fairly sleezy though.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Uhhhhhh, . . . NO!

It ain't a Bible thing either, when the Bible was written there was no Hebrew word for "homosexual", so the word never appears anywhere in the Bible. A poor inaccurate translation in The King James' Bible did use the word "homosexual" but is considered by most scholars as a mistranslation. Just like "abortion" and "tax cuts for the rich", "homosexual' isn't in the Bible.There is a ton of stuff about not hating your neighbor, loving them and not oppressing the alien among you though.

Dominicide
Dominicide

Damn, it's sounds like SMU is like are European friends: clean on the outside, but constantly compromised sexually.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'd say you've got it backwards.  The admin and professors are VERY progressive.  Now the student body is another matter--they are the ones who are cloistered conservatives--the admin, certainly not. 

Michael C
Michael C

That's just funny. 

Yes, I'm sure the other students are pissed off that the gays are "special" because someone in the administration told them they couldn't beat them up or harass them because they are gay.

Guest
Guest

"The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of the Undergraduate Economics Club and its contributors, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of Southern Methodist University" And that is from the economics club. Hmm....

Sam
Sam

What exactly do you mean?

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