By Sarah Coleman
You have probably seen event flyers around Notre Dame with the word “Spectrum” on them. Yet, many people in the Notre Dame community still do not know much about Spectrum and their purpose as a student organization.
According to Notre Dame’s Student Organizations and Honors webpage, Spectrim us a club working to “build an inclusive and diverse community that expands across a spectrum of community members and encourage a welcoming and supportive environment.” This club was started by Jae Bradley, a junior environmental science major, in the spring of 2016, in response to the needs of the LGBT+ community at Notre Dame. She was reminded of her commitment to the well-being of the members in this community and wanted to make sure they have the support they need.
“Spectrum is a club that maintains a space for dialogue about LGBT+ issues, whether that happens in our meetings, in day-to-day interactions or events outside of campus, which we hope to have more of” Bradley explains. She continues to describe that this dialogue exists in conversations, rallies or evets such as their Day of Visibility and Remembrance last year. “During that event, we had a presentation and discussion about trans issues and the language that we use to talk about related experiences,” she says.
Bradley, along with the members of Spectrum, want to recognize the struggles of LGBT+ people on college campuses, in social circles, in the workforce and other types of environment. “We also want to highlight the cultural contributions, intracommunity bonds and efforts and positive experiences within the community,” she discloses. “We want to offer a place for students to feel supported and safe and to offer opportunities for students to give support to the community through service.”
Spectrum is slowly, but surely making a difference on the Notre Dame campus. Julianne Corbman, a junior chemistry major and mathematics minor, is a Spectrum member who happens to attend almost every meeting. She states, “I feel like Spectrum is a safe space. People in Spectrum are welcoming and for me, it has been a good experience overall. I love the discussions we have and I look forward to everything the club [plans to do] at the end of this semester and next.” Some of these events include an open mic night, a dance party and a movie night.
Spectrum has also made efforts to connect with not just students, but also faculty and staff members. During last year’s Day of Visibility and Remembrance, Professor Melissa Falen shared her experiences with gay night clubs as safe spaces. Professor Falen believes that clubs like Spectrum are important. “When I was in college in the 70’s, there was some sort of gay group on campus. I would never have gone near it in those days. I was too afraid of being ‘found out,” she explains. “I was a PE major. While there were a number of gay athletes, everyone was very closeted and none of the athletes were involved with the club.” She also says that “as long as homophobia exists and there is a lack of equality and legal protection for LGBT+ people,” groups such as Spectrum are especially important and meaningful. Since Spectrum’s creation, Professor Falen has taken a stance to represent faculty and staff. She asks Spectrum what they need the most and encourages faculty and staff members to be as supportive of the organization as possible.
Spectrum meets every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Gator Alley. Their planned events can be found on SGA’s Calendar or their Facebook page (Spectrum NDMU).