Bronies become official student org

Megan Jenkins|Staff Photographer Computer science sophomore Hunter Gage (left) and software engineering graduate student Darren Haffner attending the first meeting of The Bronies of UTD.

The Bronies of UTD is a new student organization that aims to provide an enjoyable and supportive social environment for fans on campus.

The club held its first meeting on Nov. 7, and 14 students attended. Bronies, or fans of the My Little Pony franchise, first came into the spotlight in 2011 and 2012, according to historical studies sophomore and club president Michael Nakhiengchanh.

“We wanted to get the organization started in 2013, maybe even earlier, but a lot of the fan’s and faculty’s schedules didn’t connect right,” he said.

“My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” is a television series that debuted in late 2010 and is based around the My Little Pony franchise, most known for its toys.

The two-hour session opened with discussion on the series and fandom, followed by a showing of several fan-created animations based on the show. The organization’s goal is to create an opportunity for students to socialize, focusing on more than just the television series, said historical studies senior and vice president Tyler Gray.

“Sure, the show is what attracts people, but there’s more to the fandom than that,” he said, adding, “The fandom is known for being caring and inviting, promoting the messages that the series is based around.”

Introversion is common among fans of the show, and it can sometimes be difficult for Bronies to socialize, said neuroscience sophomore and club treasurer Hayden Volker.

“I’m an introvert, and I know a lot of the fandom is too,” said Michael Huang, an economics sophomore and club member, “but if you find someone else who is also a fan of the show, you’re instantly friends.”

As part of an initial advertisement for the club, Gray organized a public music session at the Plinth featuring songs and subtle references to My Little Pony.

“I wanted to feature a wide variety of music that fans of the show would recognize, but that would also attract non-fans and people just interested in the high-quality music the fandom produces,” Gray said.

Bringing together the fandom socially is a challenge derived from the negative stigma attached to Bronies, he said. The existing introversion of its members combined with the show’s perceived younger target audience leads to the bullying of Bronies. The club officers praised the fandom for the constant support it provides for its members and are attempting to recreate that support on campus.

“We want to get the message across that it’s okay to be a part of this group, that you aren’t going to get picked on for being in this fandom or this club,” Gray said.

J. Michael Farmer, historical studies professor and club sponsor, said that despite not being a Brony himself, he sympathized with the club due to the similarities it has with other interest groups on campus.

“The Bronies of UTD are, essentially, just like the College Republicans or any other academic or social student organization,” Farmer said.

Farmer supported the club’s mission of providing a space to converse about and beyond the series, and plans to help at future events.

“I want other students and faculty to see my face at the (club) events just for support,” Farmer said. “There’s nothing wrong with expressing and sharing interest in a culture.”

Marlina Torres, an ATEC junior and club member, said she didn’t feel like she was intruding on anyone during the meeting or feel embarrassed to express herself, something she had struggled with when trying to join other student organizations.

“I felt as though I belonged, like I already fit in with everyone,” she said.

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