Join: Common Ground

Published on Sep 09, 2013
Common Ground members chill in their first meeting of the year. (Photo by Jacob Boll)Common Ground members chill in their first meeting of the year. (Photo by Jacob Boll)

Common Ground is Columbia's LGBTQ organization on campus. They sponsor events that make inclusivity and acceptance something every student comes to expect as being a member of the student body here. They're also a very thoughtful, fun and thought-provoking group. We ask Common Ground president Sebastien Spiegel, a senior majoring in film and video, to give us the deal on what it's like to be a member of one of Columbia's most active student groups.

What is Common Ground’s mission?

Our mission is to provide a space on campus where students can feel comfortable expressing themselves and talking about issues that affect them. We provide a place and platform to open up discussions about the LGBTQIA community, as well as a place where anybody can feel safe and accepted. The community often refers to itself as a family, and that is what we would love to be to LGBTQIA students at Columbia.

What type of people are involved in Common Ground?

All sorts! People off all sexualities, genders, sexes, races, nationalities and ages are involved in Common Ground. And no, you don’t have to be queer to join. Many of our members are allies of the community.

What can a student who joins expect from a regular meeting?

Our regular meetings are anything but regular. We have discussions about relevant issues, take part in workshops aimed at engaging creative expression, sponsor movie days, study parties and social event planning that furthers social justice and political advocacy. We invite outside speakers, faculty, staff, alumni and other students to speak to the group or lead discussions. Every meeting is something different and engaging.

What events/projects does Common Ground sponsor?

We often team up with our parent office in Multicultural Affairs, the LGBTQ Office of Culture & Community, to put on events. Some of our annual events that will be happening this semester include Ally Week, Pride Month, the Masquerade Ball, Big Gay Turkey Day, AIDS Awareness Day, and Trans* Remembrance Day.

How many members are there?

Our meetings can range from 5 members to 50. Membership is completely open depending on an individuals’ interest and availability. We don’t keep any record of membership outside of an email list. This helps to protect students’ confidentiality.

What can students hope to gain from being part of the group?

Many members find friendship, a sense of family and a sense of community. Also we hope that all of our members learn something about themselves and others in each meeting. 

How can someone get involved?

Come to meetings and events! We keep our facebook page up to date on meeting topics and upcoming events. We also have a weekly email that goes out to keep members informed. There are lots of opportunities for general members to become student leaders.

Common Ground meets every Monday at 1 p.m. and Friday at 2 p.m. in the Multicultural Affairs Office, 618 S. Michigan, 4th flr. Monday meetings are usually set aside for a topic discussion, whereas Friday meetings offer the committees a time to meet and discuss their goals.