SPECTRUM to represent southern schools in midwestern conference
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
This weekend, 17 SMU students, one professor and one student from Texas Women's University will join approximately 2,500 people in the 20th annual Midwest, Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC) at Iowa State University.
However, what makes them stand out from the other participants in the conference is that they are the only southern school attending.
Together, these 19 people will represent Texas through Spectrum, SMU's undergraduate LGBT organization, in the largest LGBTQA college conference in North America.
Working to show that SMU is a progressive campus, participation in this event alone jumped from four students last year to 18 students this year, more than quadrupling attendance at this conference.
After attending last year's MBLGTACC, Co-President of Spectrum Harvey Luna was motivated to increase activism on campus. However, he knew he couldn't do it alone.
Once he was elected co-president, Luna brought in funds from Student Senate, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, in addition to private donors and other conference attendees.
"[The conference] inspired me to spread the message and bring a sense of activism back to SMU," he said.
At the time, Luna was a Dedman II Senator working on two bills in Senate — one to denounce homophobia and the other to implement a LGBT seat. While the first bill passed, the second did not.
In spite of the setback, Luna saw a change in attitude in the adopting of the bill.
"The change of the tone from ‘we shouldn't have the LGBT seat' from two years go to ‘how should we implement the LGBT seat' last year is one indicator of how insightful and influential this conference can be on individuals on matters of activism," he said.
Through this year's theme, "The Butterfly Effect: Evolution to Revolution," students will learn how to combat the challenges that LGBTQA students face daily on college campus.
"We are to take back what we learn to improve our campus," Andrew Aldrete, a member of Spectrum, said.
Aldrete wanted to attend last year's conference but was hesitant because it was being held in the Midwest.
SMU was the only southern school in attendance.
Though SMU is still the only southern school this year, Aldrete hopes that their attendance will inspire other schools to go next year, or even enable SMU to be the host.
"DFW has one of the largest LGBT populations in the country, and it is time that we rid ourselves of our homophobic image," he said. "As a Texas born and bred, I would love to see SMU and Dallas as a progressive community. The North does not have a patent on progress."