Campus Pride, the leading organization working to create a safer college environment for LGBTQ students, has rated Simon’s Rock 4 out of 5 stars on its national listing of LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities.
“Simon’s Rock has a mission to be inclusive and we know that means constant effort. We listen to concerns and make changes whenever possible, proactively educate ourselves on what we can do to improve, and celebrate our LGBTQ+ community.”-Eden-Reneé Hayes,
Dean of Equity and Inclusion
Sophomore Dinna Ferreria, a leader of the LGTBQ+ Student Alliance, chose Simon’s Rock because she was looking for a school where she didn’t have to hide who she was. “For the majority of people on campus, and in particular those who identify as LGBTQ+, this rings true… Students know their preferred pronouns will be respected and used, and their gender identity accepted.”
Rockers are confident in themselves and actively create a campus environment that supports others in finding their voice. In the classroom, at community meetings, and in everyday interactions, students lead and engage in critical discussions about sexuality, gender identity, intersectionality. Students create and facilitate workshops during Symposium on Social Justice and Inclusion, form student clubs, and create peer support groups.
In October, the campus celebrates Pride Week with a week of education, cultural, and social events. LGBTQ+ and allies join the festivities. The goal of student organizers is to show everyone, especially incoming students, a community that is accepting and loving—a community that does not discriminate based on how students identify.
Pride goes well beyond Pride Week. The campus displays two rainbow flags: one flies with the American flag outside of Hall College Center and the other hangs among the international flags in the Dining Hall. Both flags incorporate black and brown stripes representing the intersectionality of being LGBTQ+ and a person of color, as well as honoring their experiences and activism. The flags are daily reminders that the community embraces each for their true selves.
Simon’s Rock got high marks on the Campus Pride Index in counseling and health services for understanding and addressing LGBTQ+ emotional and physical needs. Campus Safety also scored high, which Eden-Reneé attributes to the annual training provided for campus security, as well as for faculty, students, and Campus Life throughout the academic year. Simon’s Rock has also collaborated with community and educational resources for training on LGBTQ+ issues and concerns. The local nonprofit organization Multicultural BRIDGE, founded by alumna Gwendolyn Hampton VanSant, has provided training that focuses on cultural competency.
The campus has long featured gender-inclusive residence halls, with support of staff members like Drew Melendez, residence director at gender-inclusive Kendrick House. Drew shared that “one of the great things about this campus is that conversations are happening, and people are willing to put in the work to learn more and do more for our students, and the greater Simon’s Rock community.”
Recent campus conversations led to the designation of stall-only or gender-inclusive restrooms. The new signage is intended to signal that this is a campus where every student should feel welcomed in shared spaces, from the restrooms and dorms to classrooms, laboratories, studios, and stages.
Simon’s Rock strives to support Rockers as they shift from students to alumni. A new LGBTQ+ Alumni Affinity group will provide social and professional networking opportunities for alumni who identify as LGBTQ+. The affinity group, with support from the Office of Alumni and Parent Engagement, will work to foster interest in and disseminate information about Simon’s Rock, most specifically with regard to LGBTQ+ issues, as well as provide support and fellowship.
As students graduate, experiences at Simon’s Rock become the launching point for a lifetime of opportunities. Rockers know who they are. Rockers know what they want to achieve. Rockers celebrate fellow travelers in their self expression and purpose. Pride is about celebrating and supporting all those who identify as LGBTQ+. Yet, Pride also speaks to a being part of a community that inspires pride in all of us, a community that lives up to our higher values, and a community that seeks progress through openness.
As we cheer recognition by the Campus Pride Index, we realize that being LGBTQ+ friendly is not about external recognition but rather it is about the community we are and the community we want to become.
Learn More about LGBTQ+ Student Life at Bard College at Simon’s Rock