Emerson has been named the most LGBTQ-friendly institution for higher education by The Princeton Review, reclaiming the position after falling to third on the list in Fall 2014.
The ranking was published in the 2016 edition of The Princeton Review’s annual Best Colleges book series. The statistics are gathered in surveys from 136,000 students in colleges and universities across the United States, according to a press release from the organization.
Malik Peacock, a sophomore communication disorders student who identifies as gay, said he thinks Emerson’s administration is very open-minded in its LGBTQ policies. He mentioned the abundance of queer-centric classes, and Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone, or EAGLE.
But Peacock said most of the LGBTQ support comes from the student population.
“There’s a huge gay population,” Peacock said. “[Emerson has a] small community with a large portion of us.”
According to Ruthanne Madsen, vice president for enrollment management, Emerson began asking applicants if they identified as Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual for the Fall 2014 application period. The college now has two years of data, which she said in an email statement suggests that there are between 10-13.4 percent of incoming students identify as one of these sexualities each year.
Only 3.8 percent of Americans identify as LGBTQ, according to a poll done by Gallup in May 2015.
Raina Deerwater, a senior visual and media arts major, said that the open interest in LGBTQ issues among students and faculty provides an exciting opportunity for students who don’t come from accepting backgrounds.
“They can finally breathe and feel comfortable in their identity,” said Deerwater, who identifies as lesbian.
Deerwater said Emerson is very accepting towards minority sexualities, but it has work to do to make those who are transgender comfortable. Deerwater said the college could create new policies regarding student identification and respect for pronouns that would benefit transgender students.
“That’s where the energy should be focused [in the future],” Deerwater said.