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Strengthening our support to the University’s transgender community

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

The beginning of each academic year is both a cause for celebration and a reason for reflection. As we celebrate our common purposes as scholars, classmates, researchers, creative artists, clinicians, and colleagues, we must also take time to reflect on what it means for each of us to be part of a community like the University of Rochester.

In an academic community whose motto translates as “ever better,” we know that we always have to ask how we can improve together. We do that by having authentic and meaningful conversations with one another in ways that help everyone feel comfortable in bringing their entire selves to their lives on campus.

Out of such conversations over the past several months, we have identified action steps that we are taking this academic year to strengthen our efforts to ensure that members of our transgender community feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Their experiences, contributions and voices enrich our campus in immeasurable ways. The University of Rochester proudly affirms its unwavering support for our transgender and gender-diverse students, faculty, staff, and community members. Here is how we’re demonstrating that:

  • We are funding and crafting a new staff role to assist our Director of LGBTQ Life in supporting the LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty community.
  • We recently hired someone to support our LGBTQ+ student organizations and who will split their time between Wilson Commons Students Activities and the Burgett Intercultural Center. This person will also assist both teams with their community building work and advocacy.
  • The University Health Service will expand its capacity to provide gender-affirming care this fall with the addition of a physician with expertise in this field next month.
  • In our upcoming holistic campus space assessment, we will prioritize identifying the spaces where members of the University LGBTQ+ community can gather and engage.
  • We are actively developing a policy and guidelines to increase the number of all-gender bathrooms.
  • We have begun a review of our student conduct policies based on input from LGBTQ+ students to include language that more directly addresses concerns raised by members of the community.

Recently, Rochester was included in a list of 30 institutions named by Campus Pride as the “Best of the Best.” In early 2023, Campus Pride—the premier national organization for evaluating the efforts of colleges and universities to create safer, more inclusive campuses‑—also recognized Rochester with a Five Star rating on its Campus Pride Index. As the organization’s highest ranking, the Five Star score represents the hard work of the many past and current LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff that have pushed for the changes to create a welcoming and safe environment for LGBTQ+ students.

While we are very proud of this ranking and the efforts of those across the university that made it possible, we know that our work is not over – we will continue to strive to make our campus Ever Better for our trans and gender diverse community. As home to Rochester’s Gay Liberation front in the early 1970s, the University has a notable history in supporting our LGBTQ community, and we are working to enrich and strengthen that legacy. We recognize and we affirm that trans rights are human rights.

We are dedicated to creating a community that is welcoming, diverse, and representative of all people who help make us a better University. We look forward to working with you in that effort.

Sarah C. Mangelsdorf
President and G. Robert Witmer, Jr. University Professor

David Figlio
Provost and Gordon Fyfe Professor of Economics and Education
University of Rochester

Adrienne Morgan
Vice President for Equity and Inclusion and Richard Feldman Chief Diversity Officer

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