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Newly colonized fraternity joins UWRF

May 8, 2014

The UW-River Falls community became more accepting of diversity this past March when Delta Lambda Phi, a fraternity that emphasizes equality among sexual orientations, was colonized.

While there are 30 active Delta Lambda Phi chapters across the United States, the Delta Lambda Phi colony at UWRF is the first nationally recognized group of its kind in the entire state of Wisconsin. It is composed of 14 members and recently joined the other seven fraternities and sororities at UWRF.

“It’s showing that this campus is willing to step forward and be a positive change when it comes to social justice and it’s a good way to show that we are accepting of the gay community,” said Michael Stewart, a member of Delta Lambda Phi.

Stewart said that a lot of work was put into colonizing the fraternity and the entire process took more than two years. While the organization was previously recognized by the university as Delta New Alliance, it was not until recently that it was colonized, or recognized by the national Delta Lambda Phi organization. Nathan Elness, graduate student intern for Student Life, has supported the group through the process of becoming colonized.

“One thing that I think they will provide for this campus is a lot of education,” said Elness. “Not a lot of students probably know a lot about individuals who are members of the gay, bisexual community and so this group having that focus and really focusing on equity for all students has an opportunity to do a lot for this campus and kind of bring that to the forefront of everyone’s attention.”

All Greek organizations at UWRF welcome members regardless of sexual orientation, but Delta Lambda Phi offers an additional choice for those in the GLBT community. Stewart said that he enjoys being a part of the fraternity because he believes it gives students more options when deciding to become a part of Greek life.

“What I enjoy personally is the fact that I have brothers. College is about making friends and trying new experiences,” said Stewart. “I have put so much work, time, money and just so much effort into this organization. To finally be able to see it come to fruition and actually gain national attention and recognition from national office is really exciting.”

The Delta Lambda Phi organization was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., according to the Delta Lambda Phi website, by a man who felt there were limited options for gay men who were interested in fraternity life. Stewart, along with two alumni of UWRF, Jared Lee and Andrew Sisulak, originally created the interest group that led to the creation of Delta Lambda Phi over two years ago. Stewart was in charge of public relations for the interest group.

“I made as many phone calls as I could. I messaged everybody I could think of trying to get members to start this interest group,” said Stewart.

The organization has come a long way since its beginning and expects to be recognized as a chapter, or fully-established fraternity, within the next two to three years. The group is also considering becoming dual-school based and welcoming members from Chippewa Valley Technical College once it gains more funds. While there is currently not a sorority on campus exclusively for those who belong to the lesbian community, Elness said it is a possibility for the future.

“I would say at this point in time anything really is possible for this campus,” said Elness. “We are at a point where we need to stabilize the groups that we have, so getting Delta Lambda Phi to a point where they are stable and functioning at the same level as other groups before we kind of move forward with any other groups, but it would be interesting to see a coed organization on campus and kind of what that could really do for this community.”

After the members are officially initiated next fall, Delta Lamba Phi plans to host a variety of charitable and diversity programs. Stewart said the group hopes to collaborate with local charities and socio-cultural organizations on campus, like Gender and Sexuality Alliance and the Student Feminist Organization.

Students who are interested in joining the fraternity can reach out to members of Delta Lambda Phi in person or find contact information on their OrgSync page. The fraternity will also be participating in the Involvement Fair next year to promote their organization.