Members of P.R.I.S.M. say new group is being well-received by administration, most classmates
Tammye Nash | Senior Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Think of Corsicana, Texas, the county seat of Navarro County located about 55 miles south of Dallas on I-45, and “liberal enclave” isn’t likely to be the first description that comes to mind.
The town of about 25,000 is known as home of the Collin Street Bakery, famous around the country for its fruitcakes. But Corsicana is also home to the main campus of Navarro College, which now has what its members call the first gay-straight alliance to be formed — and recognized as an official campus organization — at a Texas community college.
Members of the group and faculty advisor Brandi Collard recently answered a few questions about the alliance for Dallas Voice.
Dallas Voice: Who came up with the idea of starting a gay-straight alliance at Navarro College? What is it called?
P.R.I.S.M.: Our GSA was truly a collaborative idea, and several people were instrumental in starting the group. The organization is called P.R.I.S.M., which stands for Promoting Respect In Sexual Minorities.
DV: Why did the group start? Was there a specific event, or series of events that led to it being started?
P.R.I.S.M.: We started the group because we wanted to form an organization that would provide support for LGBT students and cultivate lasting positive relations between the LGBT and straight communities. No specific event or series of events triggered the formation of the club.
DV: When was P.R.I.S.M. started?
P.R.I.S.M.: We began developing the framework for the group in late August of this year. We became an official campus organization on Sept. 20.
DV: Have you encountered any opposition from administrators? From other students? From the community around the college?
P.R.I.S.M.: We have received nothing but support from the administration. We have had a few cases of individualized harassment of P.R.I.S.M. members by other students, but nothing our members haven’t been able to handle on their own. The community response has been mostly positive so far.
DV: How has the school administration helped or hurt in forming the group?
P.R.I.S.M.: We have been treated exactly the same as any other organization — with fairness and equality.
DV: How many members are in P.R.I.S.M. and how often do you meet?
P.R.I.S.M.: We currently have 40 members, and we’re still growing. The club meets every Thursday afternoon, with an additional meeting on Tuesday just for officers and our advisor.
DV: What kind of activities have you done already?
P.R.I.S.M.: We had a booth at the Club Fair on campus where we signed up new members and handed out rainbow awareness ribbons and bags of Skittles with our meeting info on them. The members are currently selling candy bars as a fundraiser.
DV: What kind of activities do you have planned?
P.R.I.S.M.: We have a “Partners with You” night planned at the Cotton Patch Café. The restaurant will donate 10 percent of participating patrons’ total bills to the group. We’ll also have a booth at the Navarro College Homecoming post-game festivities. Our biggest event so far is a “Science Fiction Double Feature” at the end of October. We have an opportunity to volunteer with a pet adoption event for the local animal shelter in November. We will also be participating in Phi Theta Kappa’s holiday food drive, and we’re planning a holiday bake sale near the end of the semester.
DV: What can people in the LGBT community outside Navarro College do to support your organization?
P.R.I.S.M.: People can help us a lot by contributing to our fundraisers and supporting our events. We’re also looking for guest speakers to inspire and encourage the members of the club.
DV: What else do people need to know about the GSA?
P.R.I.S.M.: We at P.R.I.S.M. want to emphasize that we are an alliance. There is a misconception on campus that we are simply a “gay club,” but we’re so much more. We’re a group that promotes awareness, respect, and unity for all.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010