As of last week, the non-profit organization Campus Pride has chosen MSU as the most LGBTQ-friendly university in Montana. It beat the University of Montana based on the number of inclusive efforts introduced for the safety and well-being of MSU’s LGBTQ students. This recognition came as a result of MSU’s endeavor to meet the demands of the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) following the executive order of Gov. Steve Bullock to prohibit discrimination in state employment in Jan. 2016. The QSA then drafted a letter to President Cruzado with five demands that MSU should consider to make campus more welcoming for its LGBTQ students.
Now, two years later, most of the five demands are in effect and have been implemented. The demand for gender-neutral bathrooms and a gender-neutral gym locker room are complete and can be found on the second floor of the library and the second floor of the Hosaeus Fitness Center, respectively. QSA also wanted personnel hired in the Diversity and Inclusion Student Commons (DISC) who would solely focus on issues that concern LGBTQ students. Jamie Baird, the current president of QSA and ASMSU Senator At-Large, noted that this demand “manifested in the creation of the graduate assistant [position] in the DISC.” It was created to advocate for the LGBTQ community and provide students with resources to deal with matters that arise from being LGBTQ.
Baird went on to say that another demand, the Chosen Name Project, is currently playing out well with many students successfully completing the process of integrating their chosen name on MSU’s online systems such as MyInfo, D2L and class rosters. This is an inclusion initiative that lets gender nonconforming students utilize a name that matches their identity expression rather than their given name.
Another feature that MSU has that led to this recognition is its LGBTQ Mentoring Program. The program connects students in need of guidance with someone who is trained and experienced in dealing with the issues partial to queer students. It was developed to provide support to the underrepresented students and to provide a strengthened inclusive community at MSU.