May 1, 2003

Johnson School Ranks Low in LGBT Reports

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In a report released earlier this month that awarded 21 business schools letter grades based on their “gay friendliness,” the University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management received a D.

Aplomb Consulting, which compiled the report, used quantitative measures such as whether the school has a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) organization, a non-discrimination policy and openly LGBT professors in compiling scores for the schools.

Unlike the business schools at Harvard, Stanford and Columbia Universities, which all received As, the business school lacked an organized LGBT student group, which counted against it in the report, according to Gwendolyn Dean, coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center.

Dean, who was also quoted in the report, said that even though the business school supported a move to address LGBT issues by creating a group, most students did not follow up the idea.

“It’s a good example of why you need to be proactive,” Dean said.

According to the report, the business school was waiting for a “[student] champion to light the fire,” said Angela Noble-Grange ’94, director for the Office for Women and Minorities in Business (OWMB).

That champion came in the form of Jason Tauber grad, president of Out for Business. When Tauber was a prospective student at the University, he was disappointed to find that Cornell was the only top ten business school without a LGBT student group.

“I was determined to restart the group if I decided to come here, which I obviously did,” he said.

The group, which Tauber started in fall of 2002, after the compilation of data for the report, consists of between 10 and 15 members, some of whom are not LGBT. Thus far, Out for Business have hosted a happy hour for prospective LGBT students and plan to hold a school-wide party next year.

He said that the main purpose of the group is to create relationships between LGBT groups and recruiting companies, and that he hopes that the “club will exist indefinitely and be an appreciated asset in the community.”

The report compiled its results from various staff members, students and faculty members between April and July 2002, and noted that most business schools have rapidly improved their programs over the past few years.

Although Dean said that the results used were for the most part “accurate,” she agrees with Tauber’s claim that there are qualitative measures which also factors into a “gay-friendly” school.

The report also acknowledges this flaw.

“The reality is that business school students have, on average, been ‘out in the world’ longer than students from other schools, and as a result, they tend to have more cosmopolitan, pragmatic views,” Tauber said.

There have been other initiatives on campus, such as the Safe Place project, to address LGBT issues. The Safe Place project, approximately a month old, is a university-wide initiative to show support for individuals who want to discuss concerns about sexual orientation.

Almost 1,000 students, staff and faculty have signed up for the program, according to John Connelly ’03, co-facilitator for the Cornell University Gay-Straight Association (CUGSA). Connelly is not surprised at the number of people, who mostly responded from two e-mails sent to all University members.

“We figured with the mass e-mail, we [would] have a pretty large amount of participants,” he said. “We’re pretty pleased with it.”

Connelly said they are trying to add project materials into orientation and human resources packets, and provide information sessions as well. He noted that many altercations occur in North Campus dormitories, a place where he hopes to focus more attention.

“I think it’s a good first start,” said Noble-Grange, who is also a Safe Place participant. “It’s brought attention to the issue.”

Dean said that the University is “working hard” to find ways to support LGBT students. She said that in the Ivy League, Cornell is only behind the University of Pennsylvania in the amount of LGBT services.

“Clearly, the school has not been a ‘leader’ in this area, but I believe the school is definitely receptive to change,” Tauber said.

On the other hand, Noble-Grange added that future programs should be more aggressive in endorsing discussion of sexual orientation. She said that dialogue “is a visible thing,” and that the administration needs to “take a visible stance on what is right and wrong.”

“I think more people should come out and I think the administration should encourage them to do so,” Tauber said. “The size of the closet at Cornell as a whole — faculty, staff and students — is huge, and the rest of the world is going to stay pretty clueless about these issues unless LGBT people start telling others they’re not straight.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao