Mason recognized as a top school for LGBTQ students
September 21, 2018 / by Mary Lee Clark
George Mason University has been recognized by Affordable Colleges Online as one of the most inclusive campuses for LGBTQ students. The ranking recognized Mason’s dedication to inclusiveness and is based on the school’s LGBTQ inclusion policy, support in academic and student life, housing, safety, counseling and health, among other factors.
Mason is the only school to be recognized in Virginia. The ranking highlighted the university’s all-gender bathrooms, LGBTQ Living Learning Community housing, the number of LGBTQ resources and a 3.5 out of 5 star rating on the Campus Pride LGBTQ Campus Climate Index, a national listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.
Josh Kinchen, associate director for the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Multicultural Education (ODIME)+ Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Resources, said the office hosts an array of traditional resources and programming that is continuously being shaped by national and local conversations on intersectionality, identity development, diversity and inclusion. A big part of what they do, he said, is “keeping students, faculty and staff up-to-date with what those conversations are and how to serve all students through a number of methods, including advising student organizations, campuswide workshops and mentorship, to name a few.”
Students are made to feel welcome when they arrive on campus. As part of the Preamble, an event for all new Mason students, the new arrivals go through diversity and inclusion training created and facilitated by ODIME + LGBTQ Resources, which is situated in University Life.
"Something we do really well in our space is living the practice of being student-centered,” said Katlin Barrett, assistant director for marketing and outreach for ODIME + LGBTQ Resources. “It's not just a phrase that we use. It's something that we actually live and is the priority of our work."
LGBTQ Resources specifically supports student organizations, including the Pride Alliance, Equality Alliance, TQ (Transgender Queer) Mason and more that are in the works.
Rose Pascarell, vice president for University Life, said that the university has long been dedicated to making all communities feel welcome.
"These are issues that we've been working on and dedicated to for a long time,” said Pascarell. “It's all around making students as successful as they can be while they're here, and underneath that making sure every student that is here knows that they matter."
Diversity and inclusion events can be seen all year on campus. LGBTQ Resources includes programs and events such as Lavender Graduation for LGBTQ students, staff and faculty, as well as Women and Gender Studies majors and minors and ally students. They also host Mason Pride Week during the spring semester, which includes panels, galleries and a drag show featuring professional, local and student performers in the Johnson Center.
The office provides Safe Zone Training to educate faculty, staff and students on how to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive campus environment. Barrett said last year they trained more than 2,500 students, faculty and staff through various programs.
Their most recent initiative is the LGBTQ+ Living Learning Community, coordinated by LuLu Géza Kelemen, assistant director for ODIME + LGBTQ Resources. Twenty students are living in the LCC in this first year it has been revitalized.
"We are doing a lot of the work to have people get the tools and language to have the tough conversations around diversity and inclusion on campus," said Barrett.