The university is now one of just two in Texas to receive the top score on the Campus Pride Index and ranks No. 25 nationally among 382 institutions included on the index.
Over the past several years, Texas Tech University's commitment to inclusivity has been demonstrated by a consistently rising score on the Campus Pride Index (CPI), a national assessment tool that evaluates the progress of colleges and universities in becoming more inclusive, welcoming and respectful of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA) individuals and allies.
This year, the university has once again shown significant progress in its continuing efforts, becoming one of just two universities in Texas to receive a 5-out-of-5 star score on the index and a No. 25 national ranking among 382 institutions.
"We are incredibly proud of this recognition," said Carol A. Sumner, the university's chief diversity officer and vice president of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DDEI). "A 5-star rating on the Campus Pride Index is not something that occurred overnight, but through several years of intentional hard work."
This also is the fourth consecutive year Texas Tech has earned the CPI Premier Campus designation.
"It's time to ring the Victory Bells," said Jody Randall, director of the university's Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement. "Texas Tech is an institution winning with pride. While our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners have known this for a long time, receiving the highest designation on the Campus Pride Index continues to tell our story: Texas Tech is a national leader when it comes to LGBTQIA-inclusive policies, programs and practices."
Earning a 5-star score is no small feat, considering the university was listed as a 2-star institution less than four years ago and has received a 4.5-star score for each of the past two years. The campus Victory Bells will ring five times at 5 p.m. today (Aug. 10) in recognition of the achievement.
"The 5-star designation on the Campus Pride Index affirms Texas Tech's commitment to the LGBTQIA community and solidifies our place nationally as an institution committed to the success of our students," said Catherine A. Duran, vice provost for Student Affairs. "Student Affairs congratulates the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement and all the students, faculty, staff and community partners who continue to demonstrate 'From here, it's possible!'"
Campus-wide inclusivity efforts are led by the Power Team in the Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement, part of Student Affairs and the DDEI. They receive support from numerous other areas on campus, including Auxiliary Services, the Center for Campus Life, the Office of the Dean of Students, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, Risk Intervention & Safety Education (RISE), the Student Counseling Center and Texas Tech Athletics, among many others.
"Over the past year, we focused our efforts on three strategic initiatives: a commitment to excellence, strengthening the campus climate and expanding capacity," Randall said. "If you think about these initiatives in more operationalized terms, we delivered 39 educational presentations and hosted or participated in more than 120 activities; re-envisioned our allies program as IGNITE! Texas Tech's Program for LGBTQIA Allyship with more than 400 students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners participating in educational sessions; and we expanded our student-facing programs with the addition of another full-time member of our team."
To receive an annual CPI rating, institutions respond to an eight-part assessment used to evaluate the current campus environment. In addition to an overall CPI score, they also receive a sexual-orientation score and a gender identity/expression score, which consider only questions specifically referencing how well the institution supports its community in matters of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
Texas Tech sustained a 5-star score on the majority of the components assessed: academic life; campus safety; counseling and health; student life; and support and institutional commitment, with additional recognition in the latter area due to the expanded scope of the Texas Tech Power Team, advisory committee and senior administration. The university also sustained a 5-star score on recruitment and retention, largely in part to a collaboration with Undergraduate Admissions.
"We send admissions counselors to LGBT-specific recruitment fairs in Los Angeles and Denver," Randall said. "We also implemented a process where prospective students who have applied to Texas Tech and are awaiting an admission application can request material about our programs and services through Raider Connect. It is a big step forward for our office to assist in 'sealing the deal' for students to decide to attend Texas Tech if admitted."
The increase in the latter was largely due to two things. The first is a sustained commitment to assisting in providing more inclusive housing accommodations within the types of facilities available at the university. The second was the introduction of a program designed by University Student Housing to provide more inclusive housing options on campus.
The Roommate Choice Housing initiative allows students who previously were unable to live together due to restrictions based on gender to request shared housing. While the program provides additional roommate options to those within the LGBTQIA community without restrictions due to gender identity, Sumner said the inclusion initiative also benefits the broader Red Raider community.
"Because of this initiative, all students now have more options when it comes to their housing choices," Sumner said. "Families who have multiple members attending the university, like siblings, can request a shared-living option which might limit other out-of-pocket expenses. When our practices consider those with the least amount of access as a starting point, everyone can benefit."
As the university continues to welcome Red Raiders back to campus this fall, Randall said her team will be a part of the university's commitment to ensure health, safety and inclusivity for all Red Raiders.
"Texas Tech, like so many other institutions, is navigating very difficult times filled with uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic," Randall said. "The Office of LGBTQIA Education & Engagement is going to stay the course and keep doing what works for our university community. We will continue to work within our strategic initiatives around excellence, campus climate and capacity. In the weeks and months ahead, expect to see more on how our office is lifting up the experiences, interests and identities of LGBTQIA individuals across Raiderland."