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The lobby of the LGBT center. (FILE)

Ohio University’s LGBTQ-inclusive ranking to be examined

Ohio University has four out of five stars on the Campus Pride Index, an indicator of institutional commitment to LGBTQ-inclusive policy, program and practice. The ranking could be impacted after the removal of delfin bautista, the former LGBT Center director

Campus Pride is a national LGBTQ organization that works with more than 1,400 colleges and universities. The index ranking breaks down LGBTQ-friendly inclusion factors, such as policy inclusion, academic life, housing and residence life, campus safety counseling and health.

OU has been working with Campus Pride for about 10 years. bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and does not capitalize their name, has volunteered with Campus Pride. LGBTQ and ally students have also been sent to the annual Campus Pride Summer Leadership Academy. 

The OU LGBT Center has also worked with Campus Pride annually to assess and improve LGBTQ-inclusive policies, programs and practices for the index. 

On March 15, Shane Windmeyer, the founder and executive director at Campus Pride, wrote a letter to OU President Duane Nellis to learn more about the situation after bautista was removed and allow the university to understand how the LGBTQ-friendly rating could be nationally impacted.

He addressed the issues following bautista’s removal and hearing concerns from LGBTQ students, particularly students of color, about feeling unsafe and unsupported on campus.

“Campus Pride has also received communications through the LGBTQ students of color and others in how the removal has created an unsafe, or at best unsupportive learning environment, as a result of the removal and the last two months without a Director,” Windmeyer said in the letter. 

Windmeyer also received complaints about Gigi Secuban, the vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, about her lack of knowledge for LGBTQ issues, using the wrong pronouns for students repeatedly and for not fostering an inclusive climate for LGBTQ-identifying people. 

Campus Pride gathered information about a similar administrative situation from the University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana, where Secuban worked as associate vice chancellor and the director of the Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, prior to coming to OU. Windmeyer said in the letter Campus Pride is looking into the matter. 

Nellis responded to the letter saying that he is proud OU has been consistently ranked by Campus Pride and wants to see the university ranking improve. 

Nellis said in his response he understood how readers of local media could believe the decision to remove bautista was not fair because they were popular with some students and others in Athens. He also did not believe the removal created an unsafe or unsupportive learning environment. 

“It is easy to understand that disappointed supporters would share their dissatisfaction with your organization,” Nellis said in the letter. “Of course, it is far less likely, that other members of the University community would contact you to praise the University for making the necessary personnel change.”

Nellis wants to have a phone conversation with Windmeyer and other relevant leaders, such as Secuban. He wants to address concerns from Campus Pride and learn how OU can improve its ranking. 

Windmeyer said the phone conversation could happen as soon as next Tuesday. 

@ewagner19

ew047615@ohio.edu 

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