Members of Castleton's Spectrum Pride club walk through a row of flags during Pride Day in Burlington, Vt. Spectrum Pride is a safe space for students to express themselves and work together to spark change on campus such as the new gender neutral housing. –Photo Credit: Ana Haytko
Sitting in the Formal Lounge of the Campus Center, surrounded by the few familiar faces of the previous year, the door just kept opening up and flooding the room with new faces.
By the time the first meeting of Spectrum Pride was brought to order by President Kyle Gosley, there were at least twice as many people as the previous school year.
The majority of new members came from the freshman class, which is not surprising considering the class of 2020 has more than 600 students.
When asked about the growth of the club, Vice President Emerson Spiese said the large new class probably has some impact, but he said the growth “(could) definitely be due to how active we were as a club last year and the new gender-neutral housing.”
“It brings a lot more attention to a club that can easily be overlooked, and that attention helps bring awareness and new members,” he said.
Senior Chelsea Carey has been a member of the club for her entire time at Castleton and she recounts that her first year there were only four people in the club, and that for the two years following there were roughly 10 at any given meeting.
“The first meeting of this year, though, seeing the formal lounge full of people, every seat filled, was really awesome,” she said.
The club has plans to set their constitution at their next meeting, but before that happens, members attended Burlington Pride on Sept. 11 (Read next edition to see how it went!).
Approximately 30 students attended, with club members saying it is the closest Pride event to the Castleton area.
The club also has had some discussion about trying to work with area pride groups to get Pride Vermont resources back into Rutland and the Castleton area.
It’s not all perfect though.
There is some division among the members of the club as to what the focus should be. A handful of members wish for the club to be primarily a chance for members of the LGBTQ+ on to sit and socialize with each other, and be able to just relate with people who face similar problems as them.
There is another portion of the club that desires to take a more activist approach to things, and try to get more positive changes to happen on campus and in the greater Castleton community. The club plans to find a happy medium, potentially creating a committee of members who want to focus more on activism within the group as a whole.
A freshman, who asked to stay anonymous, stated they have “… never had a safe space to go before, where acceptance is the norm and expectation. I haven’t attended a meeting yet because I didn’t really know there was such a supportive group on campus, but I’m glad that my new home at Castleton is a safe space for me.”