Jessica McGlory, the co-president of DePaul University’s largest and longest running LGBTQ student organization Spectrum DePaul, is organizing the school’s first ever immersion trip geared toward queer students.
Eight LGBTQ students from the university will spend their spring break March 25-29 in New York City volunteering and learning more about the queer community in a larger context from a variety of speakers and activities. The theme of the trip will be “intersections”--how queer culture overlaps with issues like politics and race--with every day of the weeklong trip dedicated to a new topic.
McGlory, a 22-year-old digital cinema major who has been involved in the organization since her freshman year and part of the executive board since her sophomore year, came up with the idea for the trip two years ago. This semester was her last chance to make the trip happen because McGlory graduates in June.
“On campus we’re always taught about doing socially responsible leadership, so I was trying to think of how Spectrum could do more to really take that into the larger community,” said McGlory, who was also inspired by the university’s ministry program, the Newman Center, which hosts similar immersion trips for students to explore social justice and advocacy in a larger setting.
New York City was chosen because of the city’s LGBTQ history--such as the Stonewall riots--and vibrant subculture, McGlory said. Hurricane Sandy has shifted the group’s plans slightly--Spectrum had to find another place to stay after the storm hit--but McGlory said she is now looking forward to the volunteer work the group will be able to do in the aftermath of the hurricane.
“It’s really exciting, and I’m very pumped to see what we can do to help,” McGlory said.
Following the trip, participants will create presentations through the medium of their choice about what they found most valuable about the experience. The presentations will be displayed at a Symposium that will be held in the middle of May, which is also LGBTQA Month at DePaul, that the entire university will be invited to attend.
The cost of the trip is $150 with a scholarship option available for students who need financial assistance. McGlory and the organization have also applied for funding from the university’s Office of Student Involvement to cover the remaining costs of the trip. McGlory said she has received a variety of applications from a range of students--from freshmen to seniors--and the response from the surrounding school community has been positive as well.
“It just really shows there’s interest, and I hope that interest will grow over time,” McGlory said. “I think what would make [the trip] the most gratifying thing would be if I came back in five years and it’s still happening.”
Erin Vogel is a RedEye special contributor.
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