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Spectrum celebrating 30th year at UA

Colby Leopard

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Spectrum, The University of Alabama’s LGBTQA student organization, will celebrate its 30th birthday on campus this month as they continue advocating for LGBTQA rights on campus.

Spectrum President Noah Cannon said the group is for students looking for a safe space to belong, whether they are a lesbian, bisexual, gay, transsexual, queer, questioning or an ally. Cannon, a sophomore majoring in telecommunication and film, said Spectrum has an open door policy and does not turn anyone away.

“Spectrum is open for anyone to join as long as you act respectful and keep our environment safe,” Cannon said. “Spectrum events are often the only time people feel safe with who they really are on campus and we will never forsake that.”

In addition to advocating for increased rights, Spectrum hopes to encourage the campus to think and act more progressively, Cannon said.

“UA can be a bit stiflingly conservative sometimes, and it leaves the LGBTQA community feeling like it doesn’t belong at the university,” Cannon said. “Not everyone knows it yet, but the LGBTQA community does have a niche on campus and a lot of times it starts with Spectrum. Our organization has proven that for 30 years and we’re only going to continue moving forward.”

Lauren Jacobs, a senior majoring in TCF from Birmingham, said she has seen the political climate shift and the acceptance of the LGBTQA community become more widespread since she arrived on campus three years ago.

Jacobs, vice president of Spectrum, attributes much of this to the fact that people can speak more freely about being gay and have more open conversations about homosexuality.

“Spectrum has been facilitating and fostering conversations across campus about homosexuality and gay rights advocacy just to get information out there. A lot of times people are opposed to homosexuality even though they don’t know anything about it,” Jacobs said. “Spectrum stands for promoting an open, engaging environment for discussions that are safe for anyone to attend and speak candidly and respectfully.”

Jacobs explained that Spectrum is more than just a facilitator for discussions. Spectrum is a part of the solution that provides everyone in The University of Alabama community with equal rights.

“What Spectrum is really about is building a community where people are accepted for who they are no matter what,” Jacobs said. “We are working to achieve that by breaking the mold, defying social constructs about the LGBTQA community and proving that we’re real people and belong just as much as everyone else.”

Kaylyn Johnson is the chair of Spectrum’s political committee and fights for LGBTQA rights on campus. Johnson, a junior majoring in English and American Studies, said the committee’s primary goals for the year are providing more gender neutral bathrooms across campus, providing more gender neutral housing options on campus and expanding the university’s nondiscrimination policy to include those individuals not wishing to identify as a specific gender.

“Spectrum made a contract with Dr. Witt when he was president of the university that each dorm would have at least two gender neutral bathrooms available,” Johnson said. “We hope to renew that contract with the new administration and continue improving the quality of life for the LGBTQA community across campus.”

Spectrum will host its first meeting that is open for new members on September 13 at 7 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the Ferguson Center.

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Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894
Spectrum celebrating 30th year at UA