I hope you had a chance to attend tonight’s Dominion Lecture. If you couldn’t be there, I hope you at least read along as I live-tweeted the event from the ShoutOut! JMU Twitter. If not–here’s what you missed:
Dr. Sue Rankin gave an hour-long presentation on campus climate and the LGBT community titled, “The State of Higher Education for LGBT People: Implications for Campus Policies and Programs.” Dr. Rankin has been on the cutting edge of research assessing the institutional climate of universities, with special attention to topics of sexism, racism, and transgender oppression on college campuses. At the Dominion Lecture, Rankin discussed her findings from these Campus Climate Assessments, which began in 1999 and continue to date. Surveying college students, she uncovered a national trend that inclusion and a sense of belonging are vital to the success and retention of individual students.
While a majority of her research notes an positive movement toward inclusion when comparing data from 2003 to 2010, there is still much work to be done! For example, in 2010, 43% of trans*-spectrum identifying students reported fear of physical safety on their perspective college campuses. And, upon completing exit interviews with students, the #1 reported reason for leaving their college or university was a feeling of a lack of a sense of belonging.
These data points are unacceptable. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that every member of our community feels safe, welcome, and loved. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Sue Rankin, I, too, make a plea that we implement inclusive policies for the benefit of all queer-spectrum and trans*-spectrum identifying students, for all students of color, and for all underrepresented groups here at JMU.
Dr. Rankin invites any and all questions about her research and findings, resources for LGBT+ students, or campus inclusion and policy. You can contact her via email at SXR2@psu.edu. In addition, her book, The Lives of Transgender People (2011) is on sale at the JMU Bookstore and available on Amazon.
(Featured Image Source: BoobsRadley)