NEW YORK—On Tuesday, February 20, female student-athletes from several different sports programs gathered in Dodge Fitness Center’s Lou Gehrig Lounge for the 2018 Women’s Consortium. Columbia previously hosted the event in 2016 and this year’s discussion-based gathering brought student-athlete voices to the forefront of the program.

Women from all class years participated in reflection exercises, small group discussions, and large group conversations about life as a female student-athlete at Columbia, noting that the experience for many has been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. 

“Our goal for this program was not only to open a discussion about the Columbia female student-athlete experience, but also to help build community between women across multiple teams,” said Annie Butts, Director of Enrichment Services. “It was inspiring to hear the candid conversations and insights that were sparked by this event and to see some new connections and friendships forming.”

According to women’s rowing sophomore Anna Beshlian ’20BC, “the consortium was incredibly meaningful. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other student-athletes and listen to their perspectives, and I was surprised by how many aspects of the Columbia-Barnard female athlete experience are universal. We definitely reaffirmed a strong sense of community in sharing our passion for our respective sport and expressing solidarity with the challenges that each of us encounter.”

The Women’s Consortium was planned in partnership with NCAA Leadership Development. Marissa Robinson, Assistant Director of Leadership Development assisted in the organization and production of the program. “The Women’s Consortium was an amazing event to witness,” said Robinson. “Not only did it provide a safe space for female student-athletes to discuss key issues in their lives, it also created a bond between individuals who may not have meet otherwise. The open forum structure allowed the student-athletes to guide themselves truly embracing their role of empowerment. I left the consortium proud to know that the next generation of leaders was in the room.”

Women’s Consortium participants left the program with the intention to support, invest in, and engage with the larger Columbia Athletics community.