Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Special Moment for URI

I don’t know if this is a “first” for us or not, but it is certainly infrequent to be featured, as the University of Rhode Island was this week, on the front page of the Chronicle of Higher Education, one of the premier publications on higher education in the world. URI was featured prominently in a story entitled “For Gay Students, More Room on Campus”, which examines both the progress and challenges faced by gay students at the University of Rhode Island and other colleges and universities across the country. It’s a good and fair article that cogently describes the difficulties that GLBT students face, the efforts to improve their safety and inclusion, and the ongoing work to assess and monitor progress at institutions of higher education, including URI.

I suppose it could be argued that such a high-profile presentation of the issues, problems, and progress at the University of Rhode Island is not the most advantageous publicity for the university. I would disagree. Many of your have heard me say that one cannot solve problems while trying to hide them, or by pretending they don’t exist. You can only solve a problem by acknowledging that it is real and marshalling the resources needed to resolve it. That is what we are doing at the University of Rhode Island, and we will continue to confront the problems of intolerance and mistreatment of our GLBT students until we succeed in building a community where all of our members are welcomed, affirmed, and supported. As pointed out in the article, that will take time and will not completely eradicate all incidents of bias or hate. But I think we can succeed in building a community where all our members can say “I fit in; this is a place where I can be myself”.

That’s our goal, and the Chronicle article is a good reminder of its importance.

There is one "first" to note: this is the first time for two posts on the same day. Just a lot to write about, and more to come. Please also check out the previous post.