Gay-straight alliance club fades away

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By Ryan Semerad

Spectrum, a student gay-straight alliance, is missing on Union’s campus. Despite participating in the Club Expo last fall, the student organization has yet to host any events this year. Furthermore, according to Assistant Director of Student Activities Kerrie Wolf, last spring the club failed to submit a budget proposal for future funding. So the question remains: what has happened to Spectrum?

Spectrum began on campus under the name UBGLAD and was a group dedicated to promoting and supporting homosexual students and their friends on campus. UBGLAD changed its name to Spectrum four years ago during a period of self-reinvention aimed at sparking student interest. Spectrum went on to support the creation of Union’s LGBTQ Ally program and the LGBTQ theme house, Iris House. Despite the rise of LGBTQ awareness on campus this year with the ‘It Gets Better’ movement and last term’s rally and demonstration, Spectrum has remained absent.

“[Union’s LGBTQ] community is transitioning,” said Iris House Coordinator and former Spectrum member at-large Jess Sarrantonio ‘12. “Spectrum no longer meets [the community’s] needs.”

While Spectrum appears to have run its course, Sarrantonio feels that it has not ended its status on campus. “It is silly to say Spectrum is inactive—the club has been declining in popularity for years,” she said.

Spectrum’s former Vice President Ajay Major ‘12 agreed with Sarrantonio.

“In my opinion, Spectrum is no longer necessary,” said Major. “The club’s dissolution is for the best. Spectrum was not well-received and Iris House has really picked up providing an outlet and support system for LGBTQ students.”

Officially, Spectrum has a slightly more ambivalent position on campus than Major and Sarrantonio describe.

“In my opinion, Spectrum is not [presently] very active on campus,” said VP of Administration Bessena Cabe ‘13. “With that said, Spectrum would officially be considered an inactive club only if the [winter] term [ends] and they have not held an event on campus.”

According to the Student Forum Committee on Committees, a club is expected to hold two to three events on campus each term to be considered fully active. However, even if a club falls short of fulfilling this criteria, it does not vanish from campus.

“[Failing to meet these criteria] does not mean that [a club] disappears—it means that the club is not recognized by Union College Activities,” said Cabe.

Though Spectrum is currently  inactive, many clubs and organizations maintain a fluctuating presence at Union. “Groups and clubs wax and wane in interest and existence over time,” said Wolf. Thus, Spectrum has both enjoyed the benefit of student interest and suffered the neglect of student disinterest throughout its history at Union.

“We have over 80 clubs and 20 organizations on campus and each one is completely dependent on what students want,” said Wolf.

As for Spectrum, it is simply no longer is vogue. Five students were asked whether or not they had heard of the club and of those five, only one student knew what Spectrum was but could not name a single event the student organization held last year.

On one hand, echoing Wolf’s statements, without student interest, a club will ‘disappear’ from the campus scene. Although, on the other hand, many clubs have been in the same situation as Spectrum and have experienced a revival. So perhaps four years from now, there’s a chance Spectrum could once again be active and thriving.

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