Universities given grade on inclusion of gay students on the campuses

By Jo Napolitano MCT

CHICAGO – Forget the traditional “grade point average.” The creators of a college guide geared toward gay students have a new ranking system for universities: the Gay Point Average.

It’s based on 20 factors, including whether the school has a coming-out week or if it extends domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.

The book, “The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students,” evaluates 100 colleges and universities across the country for their inclusiveness. Though it does not rank them against one another, each is given a “G.P.A” of 1 through 20. The schools were recommended for inclusion by gay students who attend them.

In the Chicago area, for example, Columbia College rated a 10, while Northwestern and the University of Illinois-Chicago both scored a 17. Northern Illinois University and U of I Urbana-Champaign scored a 16, while DePaul got a 12.

The reference guide, published by Alyson Books in August in conjunction with “The Advocate,” an established gay-themed newsmagazine, offers a unique glimpse into each college with its “outrageous factoids,” which highlight noteworthy moments in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender history at each school. According to the notation for Northwestern, the university “has a bit of glam for everyone. Even the College Republicans get a piece of the action by judging the annual drag show.”

Each university profile includes the best party locale – that would be Gay Night at Otto’s Dance Club and Underground for Northern Illinois University’s Huskies – as well as the best hangout, eating place, dorm and religious organization for LGBT students. It also lists the best place to check out the guys and ladies and quotes from students about life on campus.

The book includes a top 20 list, but no Illinois schools made that ranking.

Still, area university officials say they’ve made gay students a priority.

Helen Wood, director of the Center for Student Involvement at Northwestern University, said the university has an LGBT resource center and two LGBT groups on campus. The 2-year-old resource center attracts more and more visitors, she said.