GV voted “best-in-state” for LGBTQ+ students


GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Olivia Fellows, News Editor

At Grand Valley State University, providing the most inclusive and welcoming campus and educational experience for students has always been a top priority. Thanks to the efforts of staff and the work of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center on campus, GVSU was named the best university for LGBTQ+ students by Campus Pride and BestColleges.

The ranking system used in determining the top spots utilized eight LGBTQ+ inclusivity factors: policy inclusion, support and institutional commitment, academic life, housing and residence life, campus safety, counseling and health, recruitment and retention.

BestColleges helps students make educational decisions and find schools that best fit their needs through proprietary research, user-friendly guides and unique college rankings. Campus Pride is a nonprofit educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students, as well as campus groups helping to build future leaders and more inclusive colleges and universities.

Marla Wick, Associate Director of the LGBT Resource Center on campus, said that the university getting the number one slot was a great example of why the work they do is so important for students.

“We were delighted to see GVSU receive this recognition from a trusted organization like Campus Pride,” Wick said, “The staff in the LGBT Resource Center work very hard alongside our many campus partners to make GVSU welcoming and inclusive, but we also recognize that there is always room to improve.”

The Center normally puts on a number of events throughout the year like Bi Visibility Day, Queer the Air open mic night, and Queer & Trans 101 discussions. They also have a number of groups like the first-year queer alliance and the colors of pride group for LGBTQ+ students of color. This year, due to COVID-19 canceling many events and gatherings with larger groups of people, some of the Center’s events will be moved online to a virtual setting.

Marla Wick says that the Center is working towards new ways that they can make a difference for students, and their main goal is to keep GVSU as safe campus as possible for every person who walks on to it

“We are always looking for ways to create spaces where LGBTQIA+ and allied students can make connections and find belonging, and we are grateful to be on a campus with many dedicated and affirming partners,” Wick said. “That flexibility and desire to try new things is definitely one of our strengths, and we have a broad array of programs that we hope will give people an opportunity to build community, engage in shared learning, and have fun.”

This year the Center has moved all of its programs to virtual platforms for the time being to safeguard the health and well-being of students, and are hoping that offering both synchronous and asynchronous ways to connect throughout the term will create better access for students. They have also added two new student-facilitated evening programs to their events roster this year, bringing the total program number to six.

For Wick and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center team, honoring GVSU’s institutional commitment to continue ongoing efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion is incredibly important to the success of both the university and its student body.

“The LGBT Resource Center enjoys high levels of support from university leadership and partners across campus, but we know social justice work is never done,” Wick said. “We are always identifying ways that we can adjust our systems and culture to better serve our faculty, staff, and students. Our campus climate data continues to identify the groups who are most likely to experience our campus as unwelcoming, including our transgender and nonbinary communities, and particularly queer and trans people of color. That’s work for all of us to take up.”