Ivy League LGBTQ conference to come to Yale

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.
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. Photo by Isabella D'Agosto.

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.

Comments

  • Yokel

    “[They] should look to expanding [the conference] to other institutions,” Natalie Willis ’13 said. “It can come off as elitist.”

    By limiting this to the Ivy League, you are de facto elitist. What’s wrong? Williams and Middlebury don’t rate?

  • hilary_oconnell

    The IvyQ team is super appreciative of the press coverage! A couple notes on this piece:

    (1) IvyQ is open to a limited number
    of students from outside the Ivy
    League. The conference’s size and
    resources (as well as its history)
    stand behind the conference’s base
    in the Ivy League, but students from
    other schools are certainly not
    turned away. We believe the students
    interviewed may have been
    misinformed about that.

    (2) Our collaboration with Yale GALA
    goes beyond incorporating alumni
    into the conference — they are our
    largest supporter, and coinciding
    the conference with Yale GALA’s
    second ever LGBT Reunion will allow
    us to share a limited amount of
    programming as well as increase the
    scope and resources of both events.

    If students have questions or concerns about IvyQ at Yale, they are welcome to contact any member of the IvyQ team.

    • hilary_oconnell

      Sorry about the multiple comments — the system keeps blocking me.

      ** With regard to the conference being open to students outside the Ivies, we are highly, HIGHLY aware of the need to check our privilege as Ivy League students, and to not immerse ourselves in unchecked elitism. IvyQ has no designs on being consciously elitist — as stated in the first comment, the major restrictions on opening the conference’s net even wider are simply size and resources. But I restate myself: the conference is not only open to Ivy League students.

  • hilary_oconnell

    For more about the conference in previous years, please check out our website: http://ivyq.org/

  • gradyalie

    To what extent will queer grad/prof students be included in the conference? Will there be any events (academic or social) geared toward us? Just curious!

    • hilary_oconnell

      Though generally an undergrad conference, IvyQ has traditionally opened a good number of registration slots for grad/prof students of the host school! So you can look forward to communication very soon from the IvyQ team regarding registration for interested grad/prof students :)