Pride Network Celebrates 5 Years at NDSU
Advocate for LGBTQ community receives diversity award
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 14:09
The NDSU Pride Network was recognized with the Diversity Impact Award at a celebration for the organization’s five-year anniversary Friday.
The Pride Network, founded in 2008, serves as an advocate for a safe, supportive and inclusive environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees of NDSU.
Kristen Benson, chairperson of the Pride Network, is one of the co-founders of the organization.
“When I started here on 2007, we didn’t have anything for queer employees,” Benson said. “Unfortunately, people don’t always feel safe and comfortable in their work environments, and there wasn’t anywhere for employees to connect.”
The Vice President of Equity, Diversity and Global Outreach Evie Myers presented the 2011-2012 NDSU Diversity Impact Award to the Pride Network.
The purpose of the award is to recognize individuals and groups who demonstrate a commitment to advancing diversity at NDSU, Myers said.
Benson said the organization is being honored for the work it has done on campus, which includes reviewing policies, working with different offices, organizing community mixer events and community outreach.
NDSU President Dean Bresciani spoke at the celebration and congratulated the Pride Network for building the University community.
“Everyone is welcome, everyone is supported, everyone is encouraged,” Bresciani said. “One of the things I think puts NDSU on the national map is a sense of campus welcome and support of the diversity of our community, and pride in that community.”
Because NDSU Provost Bruce Rafert could not attend the celebration, Myers read a personal message from him to those gathered at the event.
“I am aware of the impact that this organization… has brought to our campus,” Rafert said. “Your presence here reminds us all of the work that we should be doing to create a safe inclusive living, learning and working environment for all.”
Benson said she is proud of the visibility and support on campus the Pride Network has established during its five years at NDSU.
“I think it started a dialogue,” she said. “There’s a hard political climate right now in our larger culture around gay people, transgender people, relationships… So institutions shy away from talking about it. Our presence has really helped people to have a way to talk about how to support, how to be inclusive and how important a diverse campus is.”
Benson said the Pride Network does not only help people feel better about their work environment, but it also impacts the quality of work done at NDSU and the community in general.
“When a faculty member feels valued, they’re more likely to be more engaged in the community and contribute to larger outcomes, so it’s really something that benefits all of us,” she said.
The Pride Network provides emotional and social support to employees, but it also plays a role in determining policy. Recently, the Pride Network worked with the Office of Human Resources to develop a website that outlines what benefits are available to LGBTQ employees at NDSU.