The Columbia Queer Alliance, the oldest LGBTQ student organization in the world, is the central Columbia University student organization that represents the lesbian, gay, transgender, and questioning student population.
The original organization had twelve members, who fought with the Columbia administration for a year before their organization was officially recognized. Lifelong gay activist Stephen Donaldson, who is commemorated today by a plaque in the queer lounge that bears his name in one of Columbia's residence halls, spearheaded the creation of the group. When the charter was finally granted on April 19, 1967, it caused such a stir that the New York Times printed the story on the front page, and the Columbia Daily Spectator reported that some students believed that the creation of the group was an April Fools' joke. Various institutions such as Cornell University and New York University followed suit, causing a wave of gay and lesbian student activism the years leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion.
In the years hence, the group has hosted the famous First Friday Dances, which at their inception were one of the very few places where college-age gays and lesbians could truly be themselves.
The CQA oversees and funds a number of smaller queer organizations at Columbia, ranging from religious groups to political groups to discussion groups.