Scott Gortikov 76F is executive director of MassEquality. He says of Hampshire: “I know firsthand how important it is for a young person who is LGBTQ to feel comfortable with the college they are attending. Once upon a time, back in 1976 when I came to Hampshire College, I was one of those students.
“A prospective student wants to know: Will I make friends? Will I be accepted? Does the staff and administration authentically advance a curriculum or culture that explores LGBT issues and celebrates LGBT people? Will I find other LGBTQ folks among my teachers and my peers?
“Believe it or not, the answer was ‘Yes’ even back in 1976. And you know what? It's even more true today.
“Hampshire President Ralph Hexter not only is one of America's first openly gay college presidents, he has also been a tireless advocate for LGBT civil rights. During the ‘marriage wars’ in Massachusetts, President Hexter was an early signer of the ‘Business and Civic Leader Statement’ that MassEquality published to successfully change hearts and minds in our State House. President Hexter has written articles and op-eds promoting marriage equality, he has enrolled his friends and colleagues to be advocates, and he has even organized fundraisers to benefit the cause.
“On a practical level, having a college president who is gay is important because he is the leader that sets the direction of the academic and social culture of this institution. On a symbolic level, it is important because he wouldn’t have been hired unless the culture of the Hampshire community already wholehearted embraced diversity.
“Hampshire College is a place where LGBT students can thrive, whatever their endeavor. I am proud to be an alumnus.”