LGBT community finds support in College of Veterinary Medicine

Morgan Kelly

A bus ride away from Central Campus at the College of Veterinary Medicine, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community has formed a student organization to create their own support system: the College of Veterinary Medicine Spectrum.

Barbara Birtcil, future president of CVM Spectrum and second-year veterinary medicine student, said the group is more of a hub of resources than anything else because students on the Veterinary Medicine campus don’t get to Central Campus too often.

“It’s probably the only way they can get connected to some of the other resources on main campus like [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Student Services] and all the other LGBT organizations,” Birtcil said.

She added that it was nice to know there were other LGBT members studying veterinary medicine.

Cindy Hall, third-year veterinary medicine student, said the atmosphere is still developing because CVM Spectrum has only been around for a few years.

“Because Ames is a conservative area and largely agricultural, the idea of LGBT is still being understood and accepted,” Hall said. “We don’t get disrespected by students, and we don’t have hate crimes. The Vet-Med students don’t vandalize our property or disrupt our events. It’s just a new concept and is still in the developing stages.”

Hall said the group gets together a few times a year to check in with each other.

“We have a potluck and game or movie nights,” Hall said.

Events are usually held at a College of Veterinary Medicine faculty member’s home, she said.

There are about 10 to 20 members who come to each meeting, Hall said, though the Facebook page boasts 87 members.

These members sometimes aren’t able to find time to partner with the other LGBT groups on Central Campus because their schedules are so busy, Birtcil said.

“During Pride Week, we try to include ourselves, but since the CVM building is restricted, it’s hard to get people from [Central Campus] to get out [to CVM campus] for any kind of function we hold,” Birtcil said. “During Pride Week, CVM Spectrum hosted an activity in which a door was made and setup for students to walk through and ‘come out of the closet.’”

The group tries to coordinate ideas and events with other LGBT groups on campus.

Brad Freihoefer, director of LGBTSS, said the group works with the other LGBT organizations on campus as much as they can.

He said it’s important for others who may not be on the Veterinary Medicine campus to know there is an LGBT presence for the professional veterinary medicine students.

“They navigate questions just like anyone else does,” Freihoefer said. “They have to figure out how to be LGBT in their environment and in their job too.”