The main Ivy League conference on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues will hit Yale’s campus for the first time this February.
Roughly 500 students from across the Ivy League are expected to convene at Yale for the four-day event, which organizers say they hope will highlight prominent issues facing the LGBTQ community and encourage activism among participants. Hilary O’Connell ’14, president of the LGBTQ Co-op, said organizers are particularly energized as Yale lost a previous bid to host the conference, but beat out Cornell to coordinate IvyQ this academic year.
The IvyQ conference is designed around the “trifold goals of education, activism and empowerment,” said O’Connell, who will lead the IvyQ efforts as head of IvyQ Student Conference at Yale College, the group organizing the event. The conference will include workshops, a speaker series and panels centered on LGBTQ issues and will revolve around six themes: identity, internationality and culture, health and sexual assault, sex and body positivity, queer histories, and real-world applications of LGBTQ activism, such as in politics and the law.
Organizers are aiming to hold the conference’s cost to roughly $30,000, O’Connell said — about two-thirds the price of last year’s event at Brown University. In addition to money brought in through the estimated $20 student registration fee, she said organizers plan to solicit funding from cultural houses, student organizations, University administrators and corporate sponsors.
Last February, administrators banned corporate sponsors from Sex Week 2012, a biennial campus event that addresses sex-related issues in college life. O’Connell, who was an associate director for Sex Week, said she thinks IvyQ will likely not face the same restrictions, since corporate sponsorship will make up a smaller percentage of its funding.
Yale’s student organizers learned in May that the campus would host IvyQ in February, which will run from Feb. 7 to Feb. 10, and began planning immediately after winning the bid. They also decided to incorporate alumni into some of the conference’s activities for the first time.
“It’s a huge deal to us that we’re going to be able to spend time with the people who paved the way for us to be who we are,” O’Connell said. “We’re hoping to have a workshop or panel to talk about alumni experiences to ask what it was like to be where you were when … we are now.”
Seven Yalies interviewed said they thought the campus would benefit from hosting the event — which they said demonstrates the University’s support of LGBTQ issues — though none said they plan to attend. Some were surprised that Yale has not previously hosted an LGBTQ conference, while others expressed concern that the conference is only hosted by Ivy League students.
“[They] should look to expanding [the conference] to other institutions,” Natalie Willis ’13 said. “It can come off as elitist.”
Madeleine Jennewein, who helped run last year’s conference at Brown, said in a Monday email that she felt the conference had a positive impact on the school’s community. She said Brown saw a “definite burst in programming for the LGBTQ community” following the event.
The IvyQ conference began in 2010 and has been previously held at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia and Brown.
Correction: Sept. 11
A previous version of this article stated incorrectly that IvyQ will be only open to students from Ivy League institutions. In fact, some of the registration slots will be reserved for students from outside the Ivy League.