EXCLUSIVE: Universities pay for LGBTQ+ inclusive ranking to make money as they raise tuition

'At the end of the day a college campus is a business, and the way that they make money is by recruiting students and retaining students,' the executive director of Campus Pride Index told Campus Reform.

Though universities use LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their business model, Campus Reform found that top Index-rated institutions are raising student tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Campus Pride Index (CPI) is the “benchmark tool” for LGBTQ+ students to determine which colleges are going to be most inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly. 

CPI ranks universities on a one-to-five star scale, with five indicating the most LGBTQ+ inclusive campuses. But colleges and universities pay to be ranked and can expect revenue as a result of high ratings. 

CPI Executive Director Shane Windmeyer explained to Campus Reform that schools are “businesses” and that they operate as such at the end of the day. 

“Campuses in order to survive, they’re businesses,” he said. “So regardless of the education, at the end of the day a college campus is a business, and the way that they make money is by recruiting students and retaining students.”

Windmeyer added that CPI is the only “education tool out there that helps campuses improve their LGBTQ campus policies, programs, and practices as well as shares with parents, family, young people, like, which campuses have what, you know, policies in place and so forth.”

Windmeyer also told Campus Reform that universities must pay a $225 membership fee in order to be given a ranking on the website.

“It’s $225 a year where a campus...has access to our professionals and we meet with them however many times they want to talk about their report to help them find resources or institutions,” he said.

Windmeyer did note that waivers are available for the $225. He said CPI gave approximately 20 waivers last year. 

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Campus Reform analyzed several universities that CPI  gave 5-star ratings last month. 

Though universities use LGBTQ+ inclusivity in their business model, Campus Reform found that several 5-star institutions are raising student tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year. 

Below are four 5-star examples from this year’s CPI list

The University System of Maryland approved a 5% increase for out-of-state tuition and a 2% increase for in-state tuition for the upcoming academic year. 

In fall 2021, the university held a Q Camp retreat as a “program of the LGBTQ+ Equity Center” that hosted student activities on “identity development; self-care; community building; and ways to be involved on campus.” 

One year prior, the University of Maryland College Park was spending $1,66 per student on student services, which include programming related to inclusivity and diversity, according to the website How Colleges Spend Money. 

At the University of Washington, tuition will increase 5.94% for the 2022-2023 year.

This past semester, the University of Washington held LAV GRAD Hype Week from May 31 to Jue 3. The flyer described the events as “a week of festivities to celebrate in and amongst your fellow UW LGBTQIA2S+ community.” 

Some of the events were GAYme Day, Q picnic, and Queering careering. The events were put on by the Q Center of UW.

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Ohio State University (OSU) is increasing tuition for incoming students by 4.6%.

OSU also runs a Safe Zone workshop that teaches students, faculty, and staff to promote “a more welcoming and safe campus for individuals of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

The website lists several workshop goals, some of which include learning about LGBTQ identities and systems of oppression and finding “tools for incorporating LGBTQ practices” in daily life.

George Mason University’s tuition is increasing by 3%.

The George Mason University LGBTQ+ Resources Center also hosts Safe Zone+ Workshops. According to the website, the workshops are an “ally development program.” 

“The Safe Zone+ Program is an evolving education and ally development program. Currently, it consists of four workshops that help participants on their own allyship development journeys,” per the Virginia university’s website. 

Earlier this month, Campus Reform reported that universities’ higher tuition fees are correlated with more woke programming on campus. 

A Campus Reform analysis of North Carolina public and private universities confirmed findings in a 2021 American Council of Trustees and Alumni report. 

Campus Reform has also reported this summer that 90% of America’s top 30 universities are raising tuition for the upcoming academic year. Carnegie Mellon University is increasing tuition by 4% while giving staff $1,500 inflation relief payments. 

All universities have been contacted for comment; this article will be updated accordingly. 

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