Fall event bonds queer students

Students, professors and administrators alike slowly filtered into the room. Bubbly, light music accompanied the laughter and small talk that floated through the air. Friends caught up while strangers became acquainted.

On September 25, the LGBTQ Center held its 7th Annual Fall Reception at 5:00 p.m. in the Kenyon Club Room for members of the LGBTQ community and allies to meet, mingle, or catch up after months away from campus.

The reception is one of the Center’s largest events of the year. Students of all  class years, as well as numerous staff members, made their way to Kenyon dressed-up in semi-casual attire and ready to enjoy food catered by Twisted Soul.

Director for the Campus Life LGBTQ Center and Women’s Center at Vassar College  Judy Jarvis ’07 helped publicize the event through posters and word of mouth. It did not, however, take much to persuade active members to attend.

According to Jarvis, “I know it’s an event that many returning students look forward to each fall, so it’s an easy sell.”

Jarvis noted the importance of holding LGBTQ receptions and events throughout the year on campus. “LGBTQ people are not necessarily a visible group—we don’t all dress the same, participate in the same activities, take the same classes,” she said. “It’s really important to have informal opportunities for folks to see how large and diverse the LGBTQ and ally community is.”

Vassar’s LGBTQ Center, located on the second floor of Main Building, was built to serve as an open and safe space for the Queer community on campus.

According to the Center’s website, the Center’s mission is one that “enhances the campus life experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students and their allies by providing social, cultural and academic programming; fostering strong leaders; highlighting Vassar’s unique history; and engaging the entire campus in discussions of social justice and inclusion.”

Elizabeth Ruiz ’14, who has attended the LGBTQ Autumn reception every year she’s been on campus, enjoys taking a break from her studies to see other members of the Vassar community outside a classroom environment. “It’s an intimate setting for a diverse group,” said Ruiz.

Treasurer of the student organization Queer Coalition of Vassar College (QCVC), Christopher Sundberg ’16, explained that the event, though publicized with note for being somewhat casual was, in fact, very informal. “It is a more casual way to get people together,” Sundberg said. “It is great to get out of my room and get free food.”

Others, see the Autumn Reception as an opportunity to foster affinity and begin critical friendships on campus.

“It is one of the few spaces at Vassar where we can mix and mingle,” explained Yanée Ferrari ’15. “It is usually hard to break social boundaries, but the Reception is a lot more fluid and fostering of the spirit of community.”

Imani Wong ’14 was on call for Vassar’s Emergency Medical Service but still found time to attend the event.

According to Wong, the Autumn Reception, can help break certain generalizations about LGBTQ people and their behaviors.

“It’s nice to have a bunch of queer people not doing queer things,” Wong said.

She also noted, “People often forget that we’re normal people.”

However, this is not the last of the events LGBTQ Center will host in the coming months. Besides the weekly LGBTQ community and allies dinners on Mondays from 6-7 p.m., in the LGBTQ Center, members and allies can expect a presentation held by the Vassar LGBTQ Oral History Project team, CommuniTea and other programing throughout the year.

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