Campus Pride Blog

Campus Pride honors Jonathan Pryor from UMKC with Voice and Action National Advisor Award

Jonathan Pryor

University of Missouri – Kansas City
Coordinator, LGBTQIA Programs & Services

“I’m incredibly humbled and honored to be selected for this award from Campus Pride.  Our work at UMKC is accomplished with the support and extraordinary efforts of our LGBTQIA students (who just hosted MBLGTACC 2014!), a supportive Division in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and a campus with true commitment to inclusive standards for our LGBTQIA community.  To me this award recognizes the efforts on our campus to challenge cis-sexism and heteronormativity, while understanding we still have work to accomplish. Thank you for this incredible honor, this award will be a great reminder for our community to continue to strive for excellence in our practices of inclusion on our campus and in our Kansas City community.” ~Jonathan Pryor

Jonathan is the Coordinator of LGBTQIA Programs & Services at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, a position he has held since 2012. He received his Masters of Education in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from the University of Missouri in 2011, and is a current Ph.D student within the same program. Roze Brooks, Conference Chair of the 2014 Midwest BLGTA College Conference writes, “In his role as adviser of Pride Alliance, Pryor has worked to strengthen the core of the executive board with team building and continued support for new ideas and programming. Pryor has successfully worked with the team to acknowledge each other’s’ strengths and assist each other in becoming better leaders.  His life’s mantra “be the best you that you can be” resonates with each student Pryor has worked with throughout his short time at UMKC.”

We at Campus Pride applaud Jonathan’s efforts in empowering students to create change at UMKC. His presence is a gift to the students and other members of UMKC community.

As part of the application we asked each nominee to develop a platform they would champion over the next year. Below is Jonathan’s platform:

I’ve been in my position at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for a year and a half and I have been involved with LGBTQIA education, advocacy, and programming at college campuses for nearly 10 years.  Campus climate has shifted dramatically, even in a decade, but there is much progress that must be made.  My research interests have focused on the experience of LGBTQIA college students, particularly for trans* identified students in areas of the classroom and residence life.  In order to enhance the utility of the extant scholarship focusing on LGBTQIA students–works like those of Beemyn, Rankin, Renn, or Sanlo (to name only a few)– educators must place our energies on initiatives that take this scholarship and others’ work and place them into practice.  It has been my effort at UMKC to fuse policy change, programming, and advising, to enhance the campus climate on all fronts.  Most presently, focusing on policies of inclusion for our trans* community, but also ensuring the educational component of purposeful and outcome based training is accessible.  The topic I would hope to pursue with Campus Pride is to work towards an outreach strategy with other institutions that establish a curriculum for Safe Space Trainings and Campus Action Plans on a policy level.

My professional experience has provided me the insight that our education efforts must reach individuals who have the slightest connection or understanding of the LGBTQIA community.  For if we are to truly establish safe spaces on campus, we must forge beyond borders of difficult conversation, and create a space of learning that welcomes those with little tolerance or knowledge of who our community represents.  I am not unaware of the reality that some individuals at all areas of a university or college campus have no interest in evolving their understanding of the LGBTQIA community, but I do believe if we equip our faculty, staff, administrators, and students with the right tools, incidents in the classroom, in the residence halls, and all others areas on campus, can be mitigated.  As my experience with the nursing faculty in my previous essay demonstrated, once the possibility is created, faculty may take the step to change the perspective of an entire classroom.  Thus, establishing a curriculum, accessible to educators at campuses across the United States should be an imperative. If advisors are to holistically support our students, we must take action in areas of education and policy.

At UMKC, my efforts with redesigning our Safe Space program began by reaching out to other campuses for how they designed their programs, building relationships with other educators who found themselves in similar situations.  I began by creating a curriculum and rubric for future coordinators to follow when my time to move on has come.  On a policy front, I found great direction from the work of Campus Pride and the Campus Pride Index.  This has been an invaluable tool for our campus (and others) to see where areas of improvement lie and how we can strive to most effectively support our students through facilities/space, programming, and policies.  Yet, how can we establish tools and guidance for policy reformation beyond the scope of message boards and listserv requests?

My work with Campus Pride will utilize resources from experts to formulate expected goals and outcomes from Safe Space programs, relevant to higher education institutions and practitioners.  These programs will be designed around accessible formats that engage each respective campus community to encourage and inspire allyship and true support for the LGBTQIA community.  Further, the Campus Action Plan will establish a rubric for how campuses might implement specific policies as outlined in the Campus Pride Index.  This action plan will have to be intentional, and understand the limitations of institutional type, politics, and governance.  However, in working together, we can assist our colleagues across the states to dramatically change the numbers of institutions we see on the Campus Pride Trans Policy Clearinghouse page.

Campus Pride has had a profound impact on the work higher education professionals pursue and how colleges and universities approach their support for LGBTQIA students.  As an advisor and a coordinator for LGBTQIA Programs, it is this growth that contributes to the betterment of campus climates for our students today.  Ultimately, our goal is to provide support for our students and establish safe spaces on our campuses—a space where students can exist freely and authentically, without repercussion for who they are or how they identify.  I think our next step is to create a shared structure for these efforts, to reach even the most unattainable institutions, and support our colleagues in making Safe Space programs and Campus Action Plans a reality across the United States.”

Campus Pride looks forward to work with Jonathan over this next year as we support him in championing LGBT issues for his campus.  The Voice & Action National Advisor Award is an honor in collaboration with ACPA-College Student Educators International.