LGBTQ Students Pose with Sebastian the Ibis and Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Patricia Whitely

UM Earns 4-Star LGBTQ Rating for Campus Inclusivity

University of Miami LGBTQ students commemorate their 2017 Lavender Celebration with Sebastian the Ibis and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely.

By Andres Tamayo

University of Miami LGBTQ students commemorate their 2017 Lavender Celebration with Sebastian the Ibis and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely.

UM Earns 4-Star LGBTQ Rating for Campus Inclusivity

By Andres Tamayo
The Campus Pride Index has ranked UM a 4-star university, making it one of just 17 universities in the South with a 4-star or higher rating.

The University of Miami has increased its Campus Pride Index rating from a 2-star in 2016-17 to a 4-star campus for the 2017-18 academic year. The Campus Pride Index evaluates the openness of LGBTQ culture by “rating” factors including LGBTQ support and institutional inclusion, student life, housing and residential life, counseling and health, campus safety and policy inclusion.

The 4-star rating is a reflection of the work the University has done to create a culture of belonging and inclusion for all of its students, including the LGBTQ community. In 2014, former President Donna A. Shalala assembled the “LGBTQ Task Force” to assess the level of services being offered to LGBTQ students at UM.  

Since then, UM has tailored student orientation to now include two sessions on campus and added community resources for LGBTQ individuals. The LGBTQ Mentor Program and the IBIS Ally Network Training provide opportunities for faculty and staff to support students through formal and informal interactions. 

In May 2015, the University honored 22 graduating LGBTQ students and allies by hosting its inaugural Lavender Celebration. This event, which takes place annually at UM and at numerous colleges and universities around the country, recognizes graduating LGBTQ students for their leadership, achievements, and contributions to the campus community.

Senior Mary Balise

Under the leadership of President Julio Frenk and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia A. Whitely, UM opened its first-ever LGBTQ Student Center and appointed Van Bailey as the inaugural director.

Bailey, the former director of the Harvard College Office of BGLTQ Student Life, says that UM must "be prepared to accommodate the needs of the 21st-century student and give them the sense of belonging that every college student deserves. Being able to see students celebrate their identity and thrive here is really what it’s all about.”

Since Bailey arrived in 2016, he has focused on getting the message about available resources out to the UM community.

Mary Kathryn Balise, president of UM’s LGBTQ undergraduate student organization SpectrUM and a senior majoring in psychology, has been working closely with UM’s administration and says much of these efforts wouldn’t be possible without their help.

“When I was elected president of SpectrUM in 2016, Dr. Patricia Whitely sent me a personal letter congratulating me and inviting me to meet with her on the issues LGBTQ students face at UM,” Balise said.

Balise says the culture on campus is “monumentally” different since she transferred here three years ago, and it is already attracting new LGBTQ students.

“I’ve talked to freshmen who said they looked into our LGBTQ center before applying, and it was a huge factor in them coming to Miami,” said Balise.

The University now also provides gender-inclusive housing options, gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus, and a partnership with the UM Police Department for student safety.  

For more on the LGBTQ Student Center and other resources being offered at the University of Miami, visit http://lgbtq.studentaffairs.miami.edu/.