Columbia to host queer activism retreat for LGBTQ students

Columbia University students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, or “allied” can now can apply to attend a leadership retreat that promises to “embrace diverse individuals” and empower the queer community.

The retreat will be held on the weekend of October 21-23 and is co-organized by the 3 undergraduate colleges of Columbia University, in partnership with Barnard College, Columbia’s all-female sister school.

An application for the retreat, which was recently released by the administration, promises that the event will help participants to “build community and develop leadership skills,” observing that “students will critically analyze systems of power and privilege” and “identify the ways in which their intersecting social identities interact with their leadership.”

The retreat also claims students will “develop a better understanding of their identity as a leader within and beyond the queer and trans community.”

The application itself lists questions on “sexual orientation,” “pronouns in use,” “gender identity” and “any other social identities that are salient to [the student].”

The organizers of the retreat declined to answer questions from Campus Reform about the retreat, including how many students will attend, how long it has been offered, and how it is funded, instead directing all inquiries to other campus officials, none of whom responded to requests for comment.

A 2009 article in The Columbia Spectator, however, provides some context, observing that while such retreats had taken place in the past, 2009 was the first time in several years that Columbia held an LGBTQ retreat, indicating that the segregated retreat has been offered on-and-off by the Columbia administration for perhaps a decade, if not longer.

According to The College Fix, Columbia also offers a no-whites-allowed retreat for racial minorities, organized in part by the school’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, which states on its website that “diversity and inclusion are not only central to the student experience, they are key components to learning and development.”

The Office of Multicultural Affairs also offers other programming targeted towards LGBTQ students, including a mentoring program, Trans Awareness Week programming, and a “Coming Out” support group.

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