first-year guide

First-Year Guide #1: What’s CQA All About?

Columbia Queer Alliance First Friday Dance

Good news!–Columbia University boasts way more LGBT stuff (most likely!) than your highschool. In fact, if you’re like a number of students, you can’t wait to escape home to head to a big gay city. Especially at Columbia, there are a thousand-and-one activities and clubs with which you can get involved and we hope you’re considering CQA as one of them. There are a number of LGBTQ clubs (more about that later) on-campus but hopefully I can shed some light on what exactly it is that makes the Columbia Queer Alliance special to myself and other members of the community.

  • Our History
    The oldest LGBTQ Collegiate Club, the Columbia Queer Alliance has been kicking-ass and making change since 1967. Founded by a small group of pioneers, including Stephen Donaldson, the previously named Student Homophile League helped inspire New York LGBTQ Activism in an unparalleled way, as argued concretely by a current Columbia University professor in his book Gay Power. At CQA we are not only proud of this history but do our best to honor those activists who came before us.
  • Our Impact
    Blogged and written about (with both praise and criticism) far and wide, what we do makes an impact because of who we are. We don’t sweat the small stuff and look for big ways to make big change. This upcoming year we are focusing much of our activist energy into putting together our new Third Thursday events, aimed at giving a venue to important issues of our time. As a club we tend to focus on the matters that are important to our members, while making sure to always try and bring it back to how it affects us at Columbia and as a community.
  • Our First Friday Dance and Other Social Evnts
    I’m a little biased, having been the Social Chair for a year and a half, but I love our First Friday Dance. Not only is it a ton of fun for everyone who attends–and over 200 students from all around New York City can be found here any given First Friday–but it’s an amazing event to plan and see happen. More than that, we work hard to cosponsor with other identity-based and social justice groups on our campus to create collaboration and community. We take our socializing seriously and plan events that seek to create and foster a cohesive queer community, such as the First Friday Dance, Queer Food events, various Holiday parties, and movie and ga(y)me nights.
  • Our Commitment to Diversity of Thoughts and Identity
    We do our best to stay inclusive and represent diversity–that’s just not diversity of sexuality, but diversity of gender expression, race, socio-economic class, political ideology, or even school year! Being queer means different things to different people and we strive to allow all individuals be open and free at our events.
  • Our Dedication to Having Fun
    Joining a club is supposed to be about having fun and meeting people, right? What we do is hard work, whether you’re coming to discussions and being challenged on your assumptions or helping us plan the next First Friday Dance and wondering, “wait, who do I talk to about getting an e-form and what is that anyway!?!?” But despite all the challenges and difficulties along the way we keep it exciting and fun. I dare you to help us plan a number of events and not feel proud of what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day and not be happy you did it.

As you go through NSOP (or don’t go to NSOP) and are exploring all the different ways to spend your time over the next four years, keep us in mind. We are excited to meet you within the next few weeks and are happy to answer any questions you may have. And go to your Under1Roof training! You may have one of us as a facilitator.

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