February 6, 2014

LGBT Student Organization Boycotts Conference

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IvyQ, an annual Ivy League conference for LGBT-identified students, has been boycotted by several students in the LGBT community due to its alleged promotion of “hook-up culture” and exclusion of non-Ivy League students.

The four-day conference, which is being held until Sunday at Princeton University, features a series of speakers and seeks to promote intersectionality, according to the IvyQ website. IvyQ has attracted over 400 attendees in each of its past four conferences.

However, students in Cornell’s Direct Action to Stop Heterosexism, a sub-organization of LGBTQ Student Union Haven, drafted a Facebook post on Wednesday detailing reasons why they believe IvyQ is not a positive experience for the LGBT community.

“We will not support a conference that creates an exclusive environment uninviting to people outside of the privileged Ivy League and which alienates many even within the Ivy League,” DASH said in the post, which was shared by several individuals.

DASH wrote that the IvyQ conference’s mission to empower and connect LGBT students is overshadowed by attending students’ desires to engage in sexual activities.

“Students at our university have explicitly chosen not to attend because the hook-up culture is uncomfortable and unsafe,” DASH said. “The hook-up culture marginalizes asexual individuals and privileges certain body types.”

According to DASH, there is notable discrepancy between IvyQ’s stated objective and the “hook-up culture” that they believe dominates it.

“This fundamental difference in the perceived purpose of the conference undermines the event and serves as a distraction for those with an honest intent to make use of the resources,” DASH wrote, adding that the pressure to engage in sexual activities during the conference potentially “verges on sexually aggressive and may lead to non-consensual sex.”

Despite DASH’s stance, several students from Cornell still traveled to the conference on Thursday, including Cornell IvyQ leader Terence Looi ’15.

Looi, who has been involved with IvyQ for three years, said that the conference does in fact aim to create an inclusive and positive community.

“We neither encourage nor discourage a ‘hook-up’ culture; we’ve always done our best to have a variety of programming to meet the needs of people with diverse interests and identities,” he said.

Justin Kondrat ’14, president of DASH, disagrees about the inclusive nature of the event.

“I attended talks and co-facilitated at IvyQ last year, and I just felt very uncomfortable,” Kondrat said. “I was not really impressed with how things went, and it wasn’t very inclusive for many of my friends. The elitism and scent of privilege was overbearing and took away from true dialogue.”

According to Kondrat, the Facebook post, which received over 40 replies in one day, was meant to foster communication among the community.

“I just want to have more dialogues and conversations based around this issue that many people face within the LGBTQIA+ community and their feelings toward IvyQ. The value of conversation of dialogue is very critical within the community,” he said.

In opposition to the IvyQ conference, DASH mentioned plans to create its own conference that will share the resources of an Ivy League school with all attendees, and encouraged “others to participate in the same critical self-analysis in order to dismantle this culture and create new spaces that truly serve the queer community.”

According to Haven President Jadey Huray ’14, Haven will be holding an open meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11 to talk about the letter and its responses, which Huray believes devolved into a personal argument.

“We want to make sure that we can have a dialogue that’s constructive and productive for IvyQ, DASH and the broader LGBTQQIA+ community,” she said. “We just have to make sure that people share their perspectives and opinions without attacking others.”