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Spotlight on DGALA's June Mini-Reunion

Dartmouth’s LGBTQIA+ Alumni Association has begun its year-long celebration of its 40th anniversary

An overhead shot of the group at the DGALA mini reunion event during Reunions.

Jul 2, 2024

3 minute read

Zee LaFon

Alumni Leadership Classes, Clubs and Groups Diversity and Inclusion

DGALA continues to represent the interests of our LGBTQIA+ community while building bridges across campus with other alumni and student identity groups. 

DGALA, Dartmouth’s LGBTQIA+ alumni association, hosted its annual mini-reunion on Friday, June 14 and Saturday, June 15 to coincide with the 2024 Commencement and Reunion period. 

DGALA is celebrating its official 40th anniversary during the 2024–25 academic year, so the June gathering served as an opener for a year-long event. “We plan to culminate in the summer of 2025 on campus with an all-class reunion, meaning everyone is invited!” says Erik Ochsner ’93, DGALA president.

A photo of a parent holding a child listening to the speaker and a photo of a man speaking at a podium in front of a DGALA backdrop.

The mini-reunion weekend began on Friday evening with a welcome cocktail party at Six South Hotel. All alumni, staff, friends, family, and allies were invited. The association’s “Breakfast with the President” tradition continued Saturday morning when President Sian Leah Beilock visited to deliver brief remarks and enjoy informal socializing over coffee and breakfast. 

DGALA’s reunions help sustain connections and community among members who may live vast distances from each other. “They really bring our LGBTQIA+ family together,” says Ochsner. “These connections can be so important for the long term. It’s an opportunity to meet people from across the country and around the globe. They may have not been out while on campus, but they still have a fond place in their hearts for the Big Green!” 

Longtime DGALA Secretary and newsletter editor Pete Williams ’76 commented on the 40 years since DGALA was founded: “Due in part to the advocacy of DGALA, its alums and students, much has changed on campus, and the College is much more supportive of its LGBTQIA alums and students. On campus, events take place throughout the year, including a Pride celebration in the spring that includes a Lavender Graduation event for seniors that recognizes the contributions of students to the Dartmouth LGBTQIA+ community."  

Triangle House, a living and learning community that focuses on LGBTQIA+ issues, opened in 2014. Former DGALA president and Trustee Emerita S. Caroline Kerr ’05 says, “Triangle House changes the footprint of campus. It’s a space built to serve not only the students who live in the house, but to support community, intellectual inquiry, and activism.” Student residents take part in chat groups, resident-focused programming, and DGALA-sponsored student events. 

Rainbow decorated cookies
“We plan to culminate in the summer of 2025 on campus with an all-class reunion, meaning everyone is invited!”
- Erik Ochsner ’93
    DGALA president


Still, Ochsner says, fear of the unknown is real. “We find ourselves having to push back more often than we would like against instances at Dartmouth of outright homophobia and transphobia, or at least great insensitivity to members of our community. DGALA values the diversity that makes our society—and world—stronger. But diversity is at its best when it is celebrated with others. We must also raise our voices against heterosexism, cisgenderism, misogyny, discrimination. 

“We often create walls to protect ourselves, but lowering the silo walls and including more people lets us recognize everyone’s diversity and unique qualities together,” Ochsner says. “After all, many alumni are part of multiple identity groups.” 

In the spirit of celebrating across silos, DGALA supported the Dartmouth Asian Pacific American Alumni Association with a contribution to its 25th anniversary and the Native Americans at Dartmouth association with a similar gift to support the 52nd annual Dartmouth College Powwow. 

“President Beilock laid out her vision for Dartmouth as a ‘brave space’ for respectful discussion. DGALA wants to ensure that these brave spaces also always remain safe spaces,” Ochsner says. “So much progress has been made for LGBTQIA+ rights across the globe, yet so much work remains to be done. DGALA will continue to work with our fellow Dartmouth Affiliated Groups, in addition to standing up for, and in alliance with, our LGBTQIA+ family across the globe, to fight hate and fear. 
“Equal rights for others do not mean fewer rights for you. It’s not pie. Maybe one day, we'll just all be equal people.”