For those who don’t know, IvyQ is an annual LGBTQ conference held at one of the Ivy League’s eight institutions. According to the conference’s website, the event is intended to “create a pan-Ivy community of LGBTQ students and allies equipped with the skills to examine their identities, value those of others, and understand intersectionality.”
This might seem like a harmless event, but according to an email obtained by The Lion, one Cornell group feels… otherwise.
Cornell DASH, which stands for Direct Action to Stop Heterosexism, wrote a letter to various Ivy League LGBT organizations to announce their opposition to IvyQ, and they didn’t exactly mince words with the reasoning behind their decision (emphasis our own):
To whom it may concern,
We are writing as Cornell’s Direct Action to Stop Heterosexism to explain our deliberate absence from this year’s ivyQ conference. 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.
While the focus of this conference should be personal growth and fostering understanding within our community, in reality students perceive it as a chance for ivy league students to fuck each other. Students at our university have explicitly chosen not to attend because the hook-up culture is uncomfortable and unsafe. The hook-up culture marginalizes asexual individuals and privileges certain body types. More so, the extreme pressure to participate in sex at the conference verges on sexually aggressive and may lead to non-consensual sex. 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.
We believe it is pretentious and elitist to organize a group of queers around their ivy league association. The tier system that privileges the admittance of ivy league students deliberately relegates others into a lower category. How many people are deterred from this initial weeding? Even within the conference, we fear that attendees’ persistent identification with their ivy league background is alienating to others both within and without the space who cannot claim that same affiliation. Identifying with the ivy league above other forms of identity implies that the knowledge gained in the space is not meant to be shared outside of the ivy league. The ivy league offers unique resources that should be used for the benefit of others rather than remain within the old boys’ club.
For that reason, not only will we not attend ivyQ but we will create our own conference that will share resources we are privileged to enjoy because of our status as an ivy league college with neighboring colleges and youth. We want to invite all to participate in a true, safe learning environment.
We encourage 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.