Despite storm, IvyQ conference persists

In spite of the heavy snowfall, IvyQ ran around 30 workshops for 500 LGBTQ Ivy League students.
In spite of the heavy snowfall, IvyQ ran around 30 workshops for 500 LGBTQ Ivy League students. Photo by Kamaria Greenfield.

This weekend, 500 students converged on campus for the fourth annual IvyQ — a conference for undergraduate LGBTQ and allied students that Yale hosted for the first time — despite logistical challenges due to the blizzard.

The sold-out conference, organized by 40 students from all Ivy League schools, ran roughly 30 workshops as well as opening and closing events, although eight workshops and social activities Friday evening were canceled due to the weather. The Gay and Lesbian Alumni Association’s (GALA) second annual LGBTQ Reunion, which was also scheduled to take place this weekend, was canceled due to closed venues and delayed flights, said Anna Wipfler ’09, the reunion’s co-chair. Organizers of IvyQ said strong support from sponsors, speakers and University administrators allowed them to hold the conference despite the snowstorm.

“What really made the [IvyQ] conference worth it for me was seeing how much everybody else, not just the planning team, wanted it,” said the conference’s Vice Chair Stefan Palios ’14. “Getting calls from sponsors and speakers saying the storm won’t stop us — that’s what made it worth it for me.”

Last spring, Yale won the bid to host this year’s IvyQ due to its in-depth events proposal and the concurrent Yale GALA Reunion scheduled, said Hilary O’Connell ’14, who chaired the IvyQ conference. The schedule was designed around six areas that ensure a diverse representation of LGBTQ-relevant topics, such as queer history and internationality, established at last year’s IvyQ, O’Connell said. Faculty speakers included George Chauncey ’77 GRD ’89, co-director of the Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities and professor of “U.S. Lesbian and Gay History,” and Maria Trumpler, director of Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources.

Most events were held in William L. Harkness Hall and Linsly-Chittenden Hall, Palios said, and Davenport College Master Richard Schottenfeld ’71 MED ’76 hosted the closing banquet in the Davenport dining hall after Commons was closed due to the storm. IvyQ organizers said the main challenges in adjusting to the storm were relocating after the closure of main event facilities — Woolsey Hall and Commons — and organizing events despite travel delays for speakers and attendees.

Over 250 students attended Chauncey’s welcome address Thursday evening. In his speech, Chauncey discussed the importance of studying queer history in order to understand the sources of anti-gay hostility and analyze how political goals such as marriage equality have been formed within the LGBTQ community.

“Our society is in the midst of a great moral debate over homosexuality and the place of LGBT people,” Chauncey said, “and studying the evolution of that debate over the last century helps us understand what’s at stake for the many participants in it.”

Despite travel delays, Chauncey said he felt great enthusiasm in the room, and considers the conference a “success.”

Organizers of Yale GALA announced the reunion’s cancellation at noon on Thursday. The decision was made early enough that the large majority of registrants could cancel their travel arrangements, Wipfler said, and ad hoc arrangements were made for the 30 to 50 people who had already arrived on campus. Wipfler declined to comment on the projected financial cost of the cancellation.

Eight IvyQ attendees interviewed said their conference experience was not significantly diminished due to the snowstorm and the changes in schedule.

“We’ve been inspired by Yale’s resourcefulness and dedication,” said Nick Ellis, an IvyQ Leadership Board member from Princeton. “We have big shoes to fill when we host the conference sometime in the next several years.

But students from several schools said they experienced travel delays, and two students interviewed reported having difficulty acquiring meals due to the closure of stores and a lack of access to dining halls.

Next year’s IvyQ host has not yet been selected.

Correction: Feb. 12

A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that Hilary O’Connell ’14 co-chaired the IvyQ conference with Carolyn Farnham ’13. In fact, Stefan Palios ’14 and Farnham were conference vice chairs, and O’Connell was conference chair.

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