The Office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard College opened its doors in the fall of 2011, but that is hardly the beginning of the story. No doubt, the history of BGLTQ student life at Harvard College extends back 375 years to Harvard's beginnings in 1636. But for the sake of time, space, and your attention span, let us start in 1998.
In 1998, the BGLTSA Resource Center opened its doors in a small room in the basement of Holworthy Hall. In 2006, with support from the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus (the BGLTQ alumni group) and Paul McLoughlin (then, the Assistant Dean of Harvard College), the BGLTSA Resource Center moved to its current location in the basement of Thayer Hall. In 2009, the Resource Center changed its name to the Queer Resource Center - as it is known today - which continues to be staffed entirely by students.
In 2010, the Dean of Harvard College, Evelynn Hammonds, convened the Working Group on BGLTQ Student Life and charged Susan Marine, Assistant Dean of Student Life and Director of the Harvard College Women’s Center, and Professor Diana Eck, Co-Master of Lowell House and Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, with co-chairing the group. The group, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, was charged with exploring the state of BGLTQ student life at the College with an eye toward making recommendations to Dean Hammonds in the spring of 2011. After meeting with key stakeholders, launching a university-wide survey, holding open forums in each of the Houses and one in the Yard, reviewing Harvard University Health Services survey data, and benchmarking peer and best practice institutions, the Working Group on BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard College submitted this report to Dean Hammonds.
As a result, on April 27, 2011, Dean Hammonds announced that the College would begin to search for a full-time staff person to serve as Director of BGLTQ Student Life and that the College would establish a new BGLTQ space in the basement of Boylston Hall, a space which would serve as the Office of BGLTQ Student Life. During the 2011-12 academic year, Emily Miller, a student at the Divinity School, served as the Interim Coordinator of the office.
In July of 2012, Dr. Van Bailey was hired to serve as the first Director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life. During the 2012-2013 academic year, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life launched its Undergraduate Internship and Graduate Coordinator programs. By the end of the 2012-2013 academic year, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life released its first annual report.
The 2013-2014 academic year included a series of milestones for the Office of BGLTQ Student Life. During this year, the Queer Advisory Council (QuAC) and Executive Committee were established to advise the Office on important matters related to BGLTQ student life at Harvard College. Partnering with the QuAC, the Executive Committee created and approved the Office of BGLTQ Student Life's mission statement.
The 2013-2014 academic year also saw the launch of the Office's website and QuWeekly newsletter, as well as the Out at Harvard initiative. In April 2014, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life relaunched the Papadopoulos Lecture as one of the Office's signature events, while also hosting Harvard's second annual BGLTQ Student Life End-of-Year Dinner.
In August 2014, Harvard University was named a Top 50 LGBT-friendly campus by Campus Pride for the first time.
In the 2014-2015 academic year, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life focused its programming toward supporting its mission. The year included the official launch of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life Allyship workshops. In its first semester alone, the Office delivered over a dozen workshops to Harvard College students and staff. In November 2014, the Office hosted its annual Holiday Dinner, using it in combination with a memorial to observe the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
In April 2014, during Harvard's annual Pride Month, the Office of BGLTQ Student Life re-envisioned the End-of-Year Dinner as its first annual Lavender Graduation, which commemorated the impacts of graduating Seniors at the College. It also hosted its second annual Nicholas Papadopoulos Lecture featuring Shiri Eisner.