An overall decent showing for Wheaton College in a new Princeton Review article that ranks 376 of the country's best colleges has been overshadowed by one dubious ranking: most unfriendly school toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
The publication also ranks the devoutly Christian school as having the best campus food and ranks it as the second-most "Stone Cold Sober" school on the list. The school ranks as the No. 4 "Most Religious" school.
Key school officials were not available for comment Wednesday, but a statement released by its media relations department read, "Our goal is to follow God's truth, including what the Bible says about sexual ethics. While some may interpret this stance as hostility to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) community, our aim is to stand respectfully and graciously for biblical truth."
The statement also says that the school "strives to treat all students with respect" and that students, faculty and staff sign a community covenant that is based on the Scripture, particularly the sections that "condemns sexual immorality, such as ... homosexuality."
That stance, however, pushed some alumni to unite in April.
OneWheaton is described as a grassroots effort to provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning students who may feel ostracized at the conservative campus.
OneWheaton spokeswoman Kristin Winn said the rankings were not unexpected.
"We are sad that the college is perceived that way but it was not a huge surprise," she said. "It just gives us more confidence and reaffirms why we exist at OneWheaton."
The group's membership has grown from 100 in April to more than 600 today, Winn said, adding there has been an outpouring of support from Wheaton-area churches and businesses. The group plans to do outreach events in the fall as well as during the school's homecoming weekend in October.
But Winn said the new rankings provide another opportunity to get conversations about homosexuality on campus started.
"I don't believe the college is proud of this," she said. "They always brag about being stone-cold sober but they certainly are not posting this ranking anywhere. It is not considered a badge of honor."