Tuesday, January 29, 2013
SMU seeks to revive inactive gay-friendly fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi
Its organizer was preparing to transfer to UT when he realized SMU's potential to embrace the LGBT community.
UNIVERSITY PARK This time next year Southern Methodist University, students can expect to see a new set of Greek letters around campus.
Delta Lambda Phi is a fraternity for gay, bisexual, and progressive men, which sophomore Colton Donica and others are working to bring to SMU.
“I saw there isn’t a [recruitment] week that gay students can be involved with to meet hundreds of students, and there isn’t a Greek system to be formally a part of, so I figured how about we address this issue,” Donica said.
If the chapter is approved, it won’t be the first time that Delta Lambda Phi has had a chapter at SMU.
“Delta Lambda Phi was here in 1995, but they did not have a enough members to keep their charter,” Donica said.
SMU’s Fraternity and Sorority web page still recognizes Delta Lambda Phi, but qualifies it as silent which means “it is no longer active, but is without conduct status.”
Delta Lambda Phi, the fastest growing fraternity of its kind, was founded in 1986 by Vernon L. Strickland III in Washington, D.C. Since its founding, DLP has grown to have 30 chapters nationally. There is also a DLP chapter at the University of Texas at Austin.
Donica said that while his first year at SMU was great, he never felt truly at home. When friends at UT told him about Delta Lambda Phi, Colton almost transferred to UT Austin.
“I always felt like an outsider,” Donica said. “I always felt like it’s a wonderful campus and students were great, but there is a vibe that it wasn’t inviting and sometimes you don’t feel like this is your home and you want to feel safe in your home.”
He had his application to UT ready when he realized the campus’ potential to embrace the LGBT community.
“I knew I could do so much more good here, and make more of an impact here than I could at state school where all of these organizations already are. I thought ‘don’t run from the problem, fix it’,” Donica said.
Delta Lambda Phi has three main principles that guide its members. Members of DLP should be involved in dignified social and personal action, regardless of sexual orientation, leading the fight that is going on of representing the gay community and the rights and equality of all minorities and to present a strong image of who a Lambda man would be.
“We like to lead by example and show that it is OK to be gay, and this is how we are and we want to show the SMU campus who we are, when they come to our events or see us on campus wearing our letters. We want them to get to know us,” said Donica.
Donica has been working throughout the fall semester to bring a Delta Lambda Phi chapter to campus.
He has been talking to the Delta Lambda Phi nationals to begin the recruitment process. Delta Lambda Phi requires 10 members to be recognized as a chapter, but SMU requires that each fraternity has 12 members.
Once Donica gets the required number of members, he will need funding to start the fraternity, which they hope to obtain through fundraising events.
He has also been talking with the Multicultural Greek Council, which is where DLP will be as opposed to the Interfraternity Council.
He needs three of the five members of the Multicultural Greek Council to approve Delta Lambda Phi. He has also worked closely with Spectrum, another LGBT organization on campus.
“I’ve been talking to those fraternity and sororities of the Multicultural Greek Council, and everyone I have talked to has been very supportive and believes I will get the votes I need,” Donica said.
For Donica, the recruitment process has gone surprisingly well, which was a concern of his and Nationals, as the chapter struggled the last time it was on campus.
Of the 10 people he has approached, he said that eight of those seemed extremely interested. Some of the men who have expressed interest are straight men.
“I think people know that it it’s not the '90s, its 2013. The gay presence on SMU’s campus is increasing,” Donica said.
While Donica has said he has received a lot of widespread support, he is aware of some backlash he may receive.
“In an ideal situation, I would love for everybody to accept us with welcoming, opening arms. But thats not always going to be the case, there are always opposing views and opinions and I am welcoming of that,” Donica said.
Donica is open to discussions of DLP’s presence on campus and hopes this will help educate students and make the campus feel safer for students who may be struggling.
“We want to hear what SMU has to say and answer any questions they have about DLP or the gay community. We don’t see there being a road block or anything getting in the way of this coming on campus,” Donica said.
For Donica and other students, dealing with homophobia has been something they have been dealing with for a long time.
“They aren't going to say anything new that we haven’t heard, and part of being a Lambda man is standing up for ideas. That’s the purpose of this we want to show we are here, we are on campus,” said Donica.
In 2008, SMU was ranked one of the top “LGBT-unfriendly” schools by the Princeton review, and was present on the list until 2012. Last year was the first year that SMU fell off that list, which brings hope to students such as Donica.
“I’ve seen some homophobia while here, but times are changing and views are changing. This is a place for everybody,” Donica said.
Donica hopes that Delta Lambda Phi will be ready for the fall 2013, but says that if not in the fall, the chapter will definitely be on campus sometime next year.
For Donica, it is important that all students, gay, straight, or struggling with their identity, know that Delta Lambda Phi has a place for them.
“Lambda men are proud of who they are and want to form genuine bonds of brotherhood with their classmates. Gay or straight, closeted, or out, DLP will include male students from various backgrounds, majors, and belief systems,” Donica said.
An interest meeting will be held in two weeks at the Forum in Hughes-Trigg for any potential members.
“This is such a great time to be apart of this movement for gay rights, and it’s OK to be gay on SMU’s campus,” Donica said.
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