The Top Wisconsin College for Inclusivity

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UW-Eau Claire ranked #1 in Wisconsin for LGBTQIA+ students

The+GSRC+and+LGBTQIA%2B+Resource+Center+received+recognition+for+making+UW-Eau+Claire+inclusive+for+everyone.
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The Top Wisconsin College for Inclusivity

The GSRC and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center received recognition for making UW-Eau Claire inclusive for everyone.

The GSRC and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center received recognition for making UW-Eau Claire inclusive for everyone.

Photo by Gabbie Henn

The GSRC and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center received recognition for making UW-Eau Claire inclusive for everyone.

Photo by Gabbie Henn

Photo by Gabbie Henn

The GSRC and LGBTQIA+ Resource Center received recognition for making UW-Eau Claire inclusive for everyone.

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“I don’t view the ranking as an endpoint, but merely a semicolon.”

These were the thoughts of Chris Jorgenson, director of the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC), on the future of the resource center after being recognized for the work they do for students at UW-Eau Claire.

Recently ranked by BestColleges.com as the top school in Wisconsin for LGBTQ students, UW-Eau Claire provides multiple resources for students, including the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center, as well as the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, known to students as The Bridge.

In room 229 on the second floor of the Davies Student Center, students have a place to relax, take a nap, or chat with other LGBTQ students.

Rayna Wangen, a second-year actuarial science student, said she spends most of her free time in The Bridge between classes.

“It’s a good place to relax,” Wangen said. “It’s definitely helped me explore myself.”

Jorgenson said the resource center is there to make sure that school policies reflect inclusivity.

“Where students report inequity, we do our best to address it,” Jorgenson said. “We also try to create community for many students who have never experienced it before.”

Alyssa Rae Plano, a junior english critical studies student and intern at The Bridge, agrees with the sense of community created by the center.

“It’s nice to know there’s always a safe space to go to be authentically myself,” Plano said.

As an intern in The Bridge, Plano also experiences another element of the resource center.

“Professionally, I’ve grown a lot,” Plano said, “in terms of my internship, collaborating with other offices, and in helping represent an underrepresented population.”

The No. 1 ranking comes from a group called Campus Pride, which looks at infrastructure, campus life, and the programs offered at a college, as well as how they celebrate and educate the student body, to determine which campuses are the most inclusive to a variety of identities.

The resource center is proud of the ranking as the top Wisconsin college for inclusivity, Jorgenson said, and he is glad their work is being recognized. However, he notes that he feels “ambivalent,” and that the focus is on each and every student’s experiences at Eau Claire.

“I try to keep a healthy balance of looking where I would love to see us go, as opposed to where we’ve come,” Jorgenson said.

Plano agrees with the sense of pride that comes out of the top ranking.

“Our university deserves the ranking,” Plano said.

She said she feels there is “a difference in the atmosphere here at Eau Claire, in terms of visibility for LGBTQIA+ people.”

If you are an ally looking to help out, Jorgenson has some advice: “show up.” He believes that this is a great way to be an ally, “because it says that this work is important, and these people’s experiences are important.”

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