Organization Spotlight: Spectrum


Jonathan Espinoza

Spectrum vice president, Abbie Deanfred, and president, Sierra J. Lanier, show their Buff Pride.

Jonathan Espinoza, Co-Editor

Driven with the purpose to “foster diversity and equality across campus”, Spectrum is the focus of this edition of Organization Spotlight.  Led by president Sierra J. Lanier, sophomore animal science major and vice president Abbie Deanfred, sophomore computer science major, Spectrum has become much more visible on campus than in years past, and the pair sat down for a Q&A to offer some insight into the organizations, their goals and motivations.

The Prairie: What has been the most interesting thing that has happened to you while a member of Spectrum?

Lanier: This summer we had such a huge response from incoming freshmen.  It was very surprising!  We haven’t had very large membership up until this semester, and the incoming freshman class were so excited to get involved.  Even now, they are still excited to be involved with everything we are doing.

What motivates you to make Spectrum succeed?

Lanier: It’s important.  It’s a very important facet of any campus. As the LGBT support group on campus, the gay-straight alliance, whatever you want to call it, as an organization we are doing a service by providing people a safe space to come in and be welcomed, to be accepted no matter what.

Deanfred: It is a great support group to have.  Especially for some of our students who are in the coming-out process currently or who are struggling with a lot of things.  It is good to be surrounded by people who have already had that experience because you will have this unbelievable amount of support around you; it’s important because a lot of people don’t get that kind of support when they truly need it.

What is something that most people do not know about Spectrum?

Deanfred: I guess one thing that most people don’t know about us is that we exist!  We’re here!  We kind of get shunted to the side a lot in a bunch of different situations, but we’re here.

Lanier:  We are all a bunch of nerds.  We are probably the geekiest group of people you will find.  We have our different fandoms within our organization…you can come in and talk to anyone about something you find interesting and I guarantee you will find someone who knows about it.

Who has been your most influential mentor up to this point in your life?

Lanier:  As cliché as it sounds, my mom.  She raised me with this unconditional love for everyone, no matter what.  She taught me from a very, very young age to not even see differences in others, whether it be physical disabilities or mental disabilities, because those things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

Deanfred: One of my older sisters.  We were both raised in a very conservative family, and she got me out of my box and helped me challenge the norm that we were raised with, and that helped me come to the conclusion that I was a different person than I was raised to be and that that was okay.

What are the 3 songs that appear at the top of your most recently-played list?

Deanfred:        Cliff’s Edge – Hayley Kiyoko

Heaven – Troy Sivan

Roman Holiday – Halsey

Lanier:             Little Mix – Salute

Closer – The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey

Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Right now, in this moment, what is worrying you the most?

Lanier: My every other thought it consumed by Spectrum, so my biggest worry is that I’m not going to do a good job as president.  I want to be able to provide something for each of the members of the group and not leave anyone out.

Deanfred: I am really concerned about our trans students.  I want this to be a safe space for them.  I want them to be happy and I want them to know they can be themselves without all that coming down on them.  It scares me to death and I want them to know it’s alright.

What kind of lasting legacy would you like to leave when your time is done with Spectrum?

Deanfred: We are just working on building bridges, especially with the religious organizations on campus; we want to start a conversation.

Lanier: I want our leaders to set up kind of a succession going on within our members, because up until now it has been a bit spotty, and I want to make sure we always have someone willing to keep this going and keep things moving in a forward direction.

What are some big things that can be expected from Spectrum?

Lanier: We had our very own miniature Pride picnic.  We called it Out in the Canyon and we are looking to expand on that because it was a huge success and we had a great turnout.  We want to do it again so we can bring the community together.

Deanfred: We are in talks with Pulse to have a sex education-type event around World Aids Day.  Not everyone in Texas gets sex education.  It’s abstinence, abstinence, abstinence and we want people to know that that is not going to happen so here is what you can do instead and then extend that to the LGBT members who really don’t get any kind of sex ed at all.

Fill in the blank: Spectrum is ____________?

Lanier: Awesome!

Deanfred: I know this sounds really sappy, but Spectrum is a home.  It’s a home for each of us and for a lot of our members.