Westminster College Accepts the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award

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July 21, 2019

Westminster College accepted the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Equality Award on Saturday, July 20, 2019, at the 15th Annual HRC Utah Dinner.

The Equality Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of an individual or organization who dedicates time, energy, spirit and whole-hearted commitment to better the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. The awards presented at the Human Rights Campaign gala dinner are the highest honor the organization bestows in the area of achieving equality for LGBTQ people.

HRC Utah honored Westminster College for a demonstrated campus-wide commitment to prioritizing diversity, equity, and inclusion. The college has cultivated a thriving learning community through a steadfast promise of inclusivity through programs, politics and practices. Westminster President Beth Dobkin accepted the award on behalf of the college.

“Westminster’s efforts run from our board of trustees to our students; through our institutional polices, department goals and the work of individuals across campus. We’re building skill development in this area across all of campus,” said Dobkin.

Dobkin praised students for challenging and charging Westminster to be accountable, responsible and responsive to their ever-evolving lived experiences. It was a student who first advocated for using preferred pronouns on campus. As a result of their work, the college was soon handing out student-designed pronoun pins at orientation, talking to parents and students and educating faculty and staff.

Diversity efforts in the past few years include hiring the college’s first chief diversity officer, developing Westminster’s Diversity Statement and launching the college’s diversity strategic plan.

Westminster HRC Utah Equality Award ceremony

The B.W. Bastian Foundation Diversity Lecture Series, the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center, Westminster’s expanded Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration week and a bias awareness campaign are just a few examples of programming.

The Student Diversity and Inclusion Center is a significant contributor to cultivating a thriving learning community. The center promotes inclusion, awareness and critical thought across campus through six student-run programs. Queer Compass, for example, serves the LGBTQIA+ population at Westminster and hosts intersectional dialogues.

Westminster’s work does not end when students leave the classroom or the campus. Students find ways to connect with the larger community and turn awareness into action. College alumni demonstrate Westminster’s core values through their own activism. Alum Brad Case, president of the Utah Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, is just one example. Brad is working to grow the Safe Zone Utah project, a valuable resource for youth who are struggling with acceptance. At HRC, eight of the 15 volunteers serving in the Utah chapter are Westminster alums, faculty and staff.

“As we celebrate our inclusive community at Westminster, we remain humbly aware that we are a work in progress. There is always more to be done; more to be taught; more to be understood,” said Dobkin.