Indiana State University Newsroom



Students strive for greater equality at Indiana State

April 20, 2015

A group of Sycamores is working to make life on the Indiana State University campus better for future students.

Some members of Spectrum, the university's student-led organization working to unify gender and sexual minorities and their allies, are petitioning to create a resource center on campus.

"We really don't have full-time or even part-time faculty or staff here to support students of sexuality and gender variances. It's been a grassroots effort on our part to see what we can accomplish," said graduate student Nicholas Weldon. "It's important enough that even if it we don't see it in our time here, it comes together for future students who might need that (resource)."

The effort isn't officially sponsored by Spectrum, which was created three years ago from the Advocates for Equality student organization out of the desire to have action as well as advocacy on campus. The group has grown exponentially -- and with it, much reliance for addressing the needs of gender and sexuality minorities.

"A student group shouldn't be the only resource on campus that departments send students who are struggling with identity issues. It shouldn't be the student group that comes first," said Weldon, who is majoring in student affairs and higher education. "There isn't a lot of awareness on campus about the resources available."

The goal is to collect 5,000 signatures. To sign the petition or volunteer with the effort, email indstatespectrum@gmail.com or send a private message to the group on Facebook (search "Indiana State Spectrum").

"The petition isn't for just LGBT. The petition is written so it recognizes diversity is important, and it talks about any identity, ethnic and minority status," he said.

A Spring Drag Review is set for 7 p.m. April 22 in Dede I of Hulman Memorial Student Union. This event is an addition to the group's calendar, as they also sponsor a Drag Pageant each fall. More of a talent show, this upcoming springtime event is to allow amateur performers to compete without the pressure of a pageant.

In addition to the social aspect of these events and the proposed resource center, the gatherings hopefully provide an educational opportunity for students both within and outside of the LGBT community.

"There are some people out there who think they don't know anyone who's gay, and that's where their judgment comes from," said Alexa Mayer, president-elect of Spectrum. "We're normal people who have normal jobs and do normal things; we just are attracted to different people than you are. Or we don't identify with a gender the same as you."

Out of respect for the meeting participants, who may or may not be "out," what is said during the meetings -- held at 7 p.m. Tuesdays in HMSU 421 -- stays in meetings.

"People know once they walk in the room, they're welcome and no one is going to judge them and that it's all confidential," Mayer said. People are welcome to come late or leave early, she added.

Even a person struggling with their sexuality or gender identity needs educational resources -- where to go for health information if you're a transgender person, for instance.

"We had a student who didn't know how to do any of that, and after attending meetings a couple of times, ended up finding information about who they were or better how they identified," she said. "They were like, ‘I never really figured out how I felt or I didn't know who I was, but after coming to Spectrum, I now know this is who I am. My body and mind are starting to connect.' We were like, ‘Yes!'"

This is the second attempt for the resource center petition, and its sponsors are learning from their earlier efforts. Part of their renewed enthusiasm is from attending the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) in February. A group of 19 students -- sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs, Office of the President and Student Government Association -- were among the gathering's more than 3,000 attendees.

"It was great to see everybody go and start to take in all this information and come back to campus with a fire under their butt," said Allen Zielinski, who is Spectrum's outgoing president and an art education major.

Mayer's biggest conference takeaway came last year when she attended a session about how to bring acceptance and tolerance to your university.

"That's something I want to work on. I feel acceptance and tolerance at this university has gotten better, but I still don't think it's great. In 2015, you still hearing people say, ‘That's so gay.' It's unacceptable," she said.

Spectrum is often approached by departments or university staff to share their expertise. About a year ago, they presented a Transgender 101 session to Residential Life.

"That was really a fantastic feeling, having them want us to present to their staff, as well as a great opportunity to speak to people on these issues," said Zielinski, a junior from South Bend.

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Writer: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or libby.roerig@indstate.edu

Story Highlights

A Spring Drag Review is set for 7 p.m. April 22 in Dede I of Hulman Memorial Student Union. More of a talent show, this upcoming springtime event is to allow amateur performers to compete without the pressure of a pageant.

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