The Campus Pride Index gave Keene State College three out of five stars when it came to overall LGBTQ inclusion and equity, which is not at all surprising.
Hunter Kirschner who is the former coordinator of LGBTQ student support used to fill out a questionnaire given by the Campus Pride Index which assessed each category and overall score. The annual dues to be a member of the Campus Pride Index is $300, which nobody at the college is paying anymore. The Equinox editors think that we should pay the dues again and fill out the survey again.
The Equinox editors believe that while Keene State College is not terrible when it comes to handling the LGBTQ community, it could certainly improve. This is reflected in the mediocre score.
One area where we see major room for improvement is in the accessibility of gender neutral bathrooms. It is a great start to have gender neutral bathrooms, but in their current state they can come across as virtue signaling by the college instead of a genuine act of compassion and solidarity.
Most of the gender neutral bathrooms on campus seem to be just single toilets with no shower. This could be greatly improved by having gender neutral bathrooms with multiple stalls and multiple showers for those in residential halls. The current set up makes it look like previous bathrooms that were already just one toilet were changed to be labeled gender neutral in order to pander to the desires of gender minorities without actually putting much thought into how they could benefit. Not to mention how hard they are to find, even with a map.
We know that Keene State College really does care about all of its students and that’s why we want them to do better. There is a lot of work to be done, especially in the terms of safety for LGBTQ students.
The Campus Pride Index only gave Keene State College two and a half stars out of five when it came to campus safety of LGBTQ students. One such reason for a low score has to do with lackadaisical attempts to record and report on acts of discrimination and violence towards LGBTQ students. The University of New Hampshire (UNH), a neighboring institution, sets a good example on how this should be handled. The Affirmative Action and Equity Office (AAE) at UNH produces a report to the Office of Community Equity and Diversity detailing the discrimination and acts of bias that students have experienced. The AAE sent out a survey to the undergraduates at all three UNH campuses and submitted their report after analyzing the responses. UNH displays this report on their website.
This is nothing short of tragic, especially in light of all the anti-LGBTQ laws being passed in the United States of America. It is extremely important to stand in open solidarity with LGBTQ students to show that Keene State is a place where they will not be attacked. According to the Human Rights Campaign in 2023, 520 anti-LGBTQ laws were introduced with 220 specifically targeting transgender people. Transphobic and homophobic law makers would be shown as the regressive cowards they are if we take the safety of the LGBTQ students as a gigantic priority.
We reckon that advertising how inclusive the LGBTQ community is at Keene State will promote their acceptance and a safe environment for everyone. LGBTQ students on the fence about applying to and attending Keene State would have a much easier time making a decision if they knew the college was a vocal ally.
One more thing that we think would be a good way to promote solidarity with the LGBTQ community is if the school promoted more LGBTQ events. Most of the LGBTQ events, like Tyler Oakley coming to speak last year, are primarily handled by student organizations. Keene State College should lead more events themselves, it would be a fantastic way to show acceptance.
The Equinox editors only want what is best for Keene State College. We know that it can be better for all students, especially those in the minority. Having room for improvement doesn’t mean that the school is apathetic, it just means we need to work harder to show and promote unity.