On Aug. 24, Montclair State University was named to the Campus Pride Top 25 LGBTQ-Friendly Colleges & Universities list. The university received this award by achieving some of the highest scores on multiple inclusion factors listed on the Campus Pride website, giving Montclair State a total score of five out of five stars.
Fred Bunton, a senior Theatre major, truly encapsulates why Montclair State has obtained this award. “MSU is so special because every time I step onto campus, I feel like I am part of a whole,” he says, “I feel invited and welcomed regardless of who I am. In fact, I feel invited and welcomed for who I am. I am praised for my individuality, personality and creative being.”
Montclair State’s LGBTQ Center deserves many thanks for this achievement. The center aims to improve services and support for members of the campus community who identify as LGBTQ+.
“We have worked diligently with our campus partners to create an environment inclusive and supportive of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” says LGBTQ Center Coordinator Brian Edwards. “Being included in this list is a testament to the incredible work we have been doing on this campus within the last two and a half years.”
Bunton, who is a Peer Educator at the LGBTQ Center, praises Edwards for the advancement on campus. “Since Brian Edwards stepped into the coordinator position, I have truly seen the center grow into a vibrant catalyst for change and inclusivity on MSU’s campus. We now offer more discussion groups, more support groups, have annual programs that the campus looks forward to, as well as Safe Space trainings that even institutions off campus are asking for,” says Bunton.
Most students seem to be excited and proud of Montclair State for being named to the Campus Pride’s Top 25 list. “I think it’s amazing,” says Angelia Silvero, incoming freshman and Family and Child Studies major, who attended a high school at which the LGBTQ lifestyle is considered taboo. “I’m really proud of my sexuality and I’m happy that my college is supportive of me and others like me,” Silvero says.
Justin Welch, a Violin Performance major and also an incoming freshman, is pleased with the award given to MSU, as well. “This makes me very happy. I come from the South, Atlanta, where the LGBTQ community is largely marginalized. It is refreshing to be able to distance myself from all of the hatred,” he says, going on to explain that in his home city, businesses still attempt to deny service to people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Despite Montclair State’s achievements, there is still much room for improvement. Edwards says that they are currently focusing on allowing students to change their preferred name in University-wide systems. “Right now, this is a major challenge for our students, not only trans students but also international students who use Americanized names and anyone who uses nicknames instead of legal first names,” says Edwards.
Other projects that are being worked on include allowing students to define their gender identity on admission applications and other records kept by the university and working in tandem with the Office of Greek Life to form an LGBTQ Greek Organization.