Delta Lambda Phi, the national fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men, is soon to be the newest fraternity here on campus. While it is not officially a colony yet, steps are being taken to try and get this group up and running by the end of the semester.
Eddie Blankenship, Nick Galinaitis, and Wesley Weicht are at the head of this new fraternity and are working hard to drum up interest in the male population at the school. In order to become a colony through the Inter Fraternity Council they need ten members who are willing to join, and then new members per class in the next four semesters to become a chapter.
Blankenship described the decision to form this fraternity as the desire for “a fraternity that was more accepting to gay and bisexual members because the LGBT community does not have a great history with Greek life.” While he says that the fraternities on campus are very open minded, on a national scale he felt this would be a good fraternity to have represented. Blankenship brought Weicht on board in the process, and he has been very active in advertising, educating, and promoting.
Blankenship never expected to be an advocate for the LGBT community or involved in Greek Life, but he feels that this is a good step because this fraternity is about the fact that the sexual orientation of the members does not affect their status as brothers. This is his goal for humanity as a whole as well.
Delta Lambda Phi is going to be a social fraternity, but Blankenship also hopes to get them involved in community service for different causes – including some with an LGBT basis to support the background of the club. Some of the causes he mentioned as possible community service ideas were fundraising for HIV Awareness, Day of Silence, and PRIDE.
Both founders are worried the group will be stereotyped as the gay fraternity, but they hope they will be able to break the stereotypes – not only about the fraternity but about the LGBT community as well. Weicht had a lot of mixed feelings about Greek life, but some of his reservations are appeased by his role in starting Delta Lambda Phi. He stated, “I had spoken out against Greek life, so for me to be starting one should attest to how much it means to me and how much it should mean to people in general.”
There is a lot of excitement about the new fraternity here on campus from the faculty, although the word has not spread long and far enough. Director of the Office of Student Engagement Christine Workman informed me that all of the current fraternities on campus are excited to welcome the new group to their ranks. Mahlia Joyce, of Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, stated her own eagerness for the new group because of it offers a unique opportunity for diversity here on campus.
The founders were looking into other groups, but they decided this group was the best fit for the people here at McDaniel.
Blankenship described a progressive man as any man who is open-minded about sexuality – their own individual sexuality is irrelevant and they do not care what the sexuality of their brothers may be. Right now, one main concern for the group is getting men to attend interest meetings and learn about the fraternity so they can find the last few members for their first class and get their colonization from the national level as soon as possible.
Weicht said that one of his concerns is “trying to convince the straight population that joining this would not be a label maker.” He explained that the purpose of the group is to raise awareness about rights and other aspects of the LGBT community, and not about an individual’s sexual orientation.
Advertising is difficult because national standards require very specific advertising. They are not a formal fraternity yet, and bureaucracy can be a long process to tread.
A large number of people are not aware of this group’s formation. Many of those who are aware of the group were freshmen men who were already looking into the fraternity scene.
There is also a group, headed by Sara Miller, that is working to start a sorority with a similar goal- Gamma Rho Lambda- in the near future, but it is in the very early stages.
The group has decided on Gamma Rho Lambda because, as Sarah stated, “I like that Gamma Rho Lambda has the potential to be a home for girls that maybe felt out-of-place in traditional Greek life. While I respect the existing sororities on campus, I think GRL will offer something a little different.”
When asked his thoughts about it, Weicht stated, “I am completely thrilled about it, I am all for it, I think it is one of the best things ever.”
So in closing, if you are a man and looking for a fraternity, be on the lookout for this new group to start sprouting up around campus – and women, your chance may not be far behind.