REACHING OUT MBA (ROMBA) was founded to empower and support LGBT MBA students to lead the way towards equality in business education, the workplace and society. Through its programming and annual conference, ROMBA seeks to educate LGBT students about opportunities, inspire them to become leaders in their organizations and communities and to foster community and networks among the LGBT MBA community. Tuck has enjoyed a long history of leadership and engagement with ROMBA including two current alumni servings as board members and four current students serving on the 2014 conference leadership team. T’15 Jasper Wright recently had an opportunity to attend the Reaching Out MBA Leadership Summit in Chicago, IL and was excited to blog about his experience.
A couple weeks ago, a few Tuckies flew to Chicago for the Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA) Leadership Summit. ROMBA is an organization for LGBT MBA students and its goal is to serve as a means through which students can connect with each other, become educated about issues in our communities, and get inspired to change things for the better. The Leadership Summit is a gathering of LGBT club leaders from other MBA programs across the country, with over 40 schools represented. Joe, Jesse and I represented Tuck Pride.
Attendance at this event would not have been possible without support from the MBAPO. The Leadership Summit is free for up to three students from a school, but transportation and lodging are self-funded. So Joe, Jesse and I went to the MBAPO a few weeks before the event and, happily, they came through for us! The MBAPO worked magic to provide significant funding that helped to cover airfare and hotels, which isn’t easy after the annual budget is set. This just goes to show that it never hurts to ask.
We felt Tuck’s being represented at the event was important for a few reasons. Three Tuckies and I are helping to plan the 2014 ROMBA Conference, which will be held in San Francisco. Tuck is also the school that has helped to plan the most ROMBA Conferences. We also wanted to share with our peers from other schools the successful Tuck Pride events we’ve had on campus this year. From Big Gay Brunches at DivCo and Admitted Students Weekend, to lighting up Tuck Hall in rainbow on National Coming Out Day, a friendly Ask Me Anything event and an amazing Diva Party that raised money for the Trevor Project, Tuck Pride has had a great year! It turns out that we’ve had more successful events than many of our peers at bigger schools. That’s in no small part because of a super supportive community of Tuck allies who make this a welcoming place. Tuck’s secluded location, small community and intense focus on teams mean that you get to know your classmates really well. The flip side of that is that your classmates get to know you really well – beyond any label.
Much of the discussion at the Leadership Summit centered on ally engagement. One panelist, Hannah Yankelevich, T’13, talked about cultivating allies at work through ally training. We also discussed whether it’s appropriate for allies to attend the ROMBA Conference. (Yes!) Should allies participate in LGBT-specific recruiting events, like at the ROMBA Conference or on campus? What does it even mean to be an ally? Is having goodwill towards the LGBT community enough or does it require action? The answer to these questions was less clear, but I’m glad that there remains a diversity of opinion within the community on these issues. Joe, Jesse and I heard some innovative things others are doing on their campuses to raise LGBT awareness. In true business school fashion, we’ll be “leveraging” some of these for future Tuck Pride events.
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