As a newly elected co-president of FuquaPride, Fuqua’s LGBT Network, I had the opportunity to attend Reaching Out MBA’s (ROMBA) Leadership Summit in Chicago last April. There I met and networked with other leaders of LGBT MBA organizations. Given this was only weeks after North Carolina passed its now-infamous HB2 law that limited state LGBT protections, I wasn’t surprised I kept getting the exact same question: “Why would any LGBT individual get their MBA in North Carolina now?”
Luckily, it was an easy answer: “Because they have Duke.”
Fuqua, the broader Duke community, and the greater Durham area will always remain safe, inclusive, supportive places for LBGT students. In the days and weeks following HB2’s passage, the reaction against the law in our community was palpable. Our MBAA (Fuqua’s student government) and other student organizations issued immediate statements in support of the LGBT community, Duke administrators doubled down on reconfirming their commitment to protecting diversity, our Dean spoke out against the legislature’s decision, we completed Fuqua’s first gender-neutral restrooms, and you would have thought Durham was celebrating Gay Pride Month early by the number of rainbow flags flying in local businesses.
While it was deeply moving to see such open support for my community last spring, I wasn’t that surprised by it. As I wrote in a blog post last year about our LGBT Weekend, FuquaPride is already a central institution at Fuqua, with events like trivia nights, our sold-out Drag Show, and our Ally Week bar crawl that attract hundreds of students and allies. And with UNC, NC State, and other universities just down the road, you’re living in a student-heavy region that has always been more willing to embrace diversity. That said, it’s the everyday life as a member of FuquaPride that really demonstrates why Duke is fantastic place for LGBT students.
FuquaPride is a community within a community, and we take everything that is special about the Team Fuqua culture and put it in a smaller, more familial package. With 40 plus out LGBT members (a number that continues to grow every year!), and an even bigger network of allies, there is always someone ready to drop what they’re doing to provide you with the support you need—whether that’s a second pair of eyes on your resume before you head to the annual ROMBA Conference, help with mastering a concept in your core statistics class, or just a group of friends to share a drink with when you need to celebrate a job offer (or mourn a rejection). I’ve made many close friendships at Fuqua in just one year, but the relationships I developed through FuquaPride are some of my most important.
If you think Fuqua is a perfect fit for you, do not be worried that being LGBT in Durham will set you back! Our LGBT Weekend, hosted by Admissions and FuquaPride, is typically held in early December each year and provides a great opportunity to come see for yourself why Duke and Durham are great places for LGBT Students.