When Ivan Rosales-Robles went through the rush process during his first year at Syracuse University, he didn’t feel like the fraternities were for him. But when Robles heard about Delta Lambda Phi, a social fraternity for gay, bisexual and progressive men, he said he found a great outlet on campus.
“It’s a nice group of people I can go and hang out with, spend time with, and feel comfortable with,” said Robles, the current president of the fraternity. “And I think that’s a great outlet to have.”
The fraternity originally came to the SU in 2004 and disbanded in 2010. Last semester, Aaron Goldsmith, a television, radio and film senior and pledge master of the fraternity, worked with other members of the community and the fraternity’s national chapter to bring back the fraternity as an active organization on campus.
As of Oct. 4, the fraternity is officially recolonized at SU with plans to become the Beta Iota chapter. Colonization is the prerequisite to becoming an official fraternity chapter. The SU colony currently has seven members.
“It’s something that this campus needed, and since they once had it, they could bring it back,” Goldsmith said. “I think it’s something that would benefit this campus, this community, and help make Greek life more progressive and inclusive.”
Although the fraternity usually attracts members from the gay or bisexual communities, Adam Magill-Goodskey, treasurer of the SU colony, said they aim to recruit “forward-thinkers.”
“I don’t have to be gay to be in this community. I don’t have to be bisexual. I can just be a man. I can be straight,” he said. “It’s really open for any man who wants to join it.”
Goodskey said he became interested in the organization when a friend approached him about joining.
“It just snowballed into this great thing,” he said.
One of the main concerns members of the SU colony involves history repeating itself. Goodskey attributed the fraternity’s past failure to a lack of the necessary commitment, time and motivation to keep it going, with past members more focused on having fun than maintaining the organization.
This makes picking and recruiting qualified members for SU colony extremely important, Goodskey said.
“We want to see it grow in the future and be a stable house on campus. We want this to be picked up from where it left off,” he said. “I think it can definitely be done and I hope to see that.”
Alexandre Chapeaux, a Delta Lamda Phi brother who was part of the original colonization in 2004, said the major issue and reason for the fraternity’s disbandment was recruitment.
“We had great members, but we didn’t have great leaders,” Chapeaux said.
Goldsmith, who was involved in bringing back the fraternity to SU last year, expressed and addressed these concerns. “(We’re) really focusing on people who are strong leaders and who will lead the organization, because if they’re not leaders then it’ll fall apart again,” Goldsmith said. “We’re looking for quality brothers. We obviously also look for fun people, but we’re not just about that.”
In terms of the fraternity’s reintegration to the campus community, Goldsmith said he has gotten a lot of support. Because of this, he said being a gay fraternity has not necessarily hindered the organization’s assimilation on campus.
Although a few members have expressed thoughts about what they perceive as a closed-minded SU community, Goldsmith prefers to focus on the positive instances that have occurred so far.
“I feel like we also have to be open-minded to the fact that (the community) may be more open-minded than we think, and to focus more on the support rather than the hatred,” Goldsmith said.
SU ranked in the top 50 friendliest LGBT campuses in a Campus Pride’s annual list.
Jermaine Williams, however, said he’s had a different experience. The secretary of the SU colony said he’s seen multiple aggressions, whether being yelled at by a passing car or having “sly comments” directed toward him.
One of Williams’ concerns is rejection from the SU community, he said, since some individuals may think that the fraternity can’t really be a brotherhood with the potential for sexual interests between brothers. “But to be honest, we’re still guys and we still can have a good time with each other without it having to be something that’s about sexuality,” Williams added.
Williams, who said he felt separated from the campus community before joining Delta Lamda Phi, encourages people to join the colony because it’s a group in which everyone can truly be themselves.
“I hate it when people have to hide themselves because of what they feel is socially correct,” Williams said.
Rob Lydick, Chief Communications Officer of the national social fraternity, was part of the Delta Lamda Phi chapter at Pennsylvania State University. Similarly to the chapter at SU, Lydick’s fraternity also disbanded and was reestablished at some point, and he said this has happened across multiple university campuses.
However, anytime a university becomes interested in bringing back the fraternity, Lydick said he is “thrilled” to see that interest rise up again.
As for the SU colony, Lydick said the members must focus on the future.
“This is something that is not just college, it’s not just until you become a chapter, it’s something that you should be actively part of for the rest of your life,” he said. “There will be brothers that you meet up with when you’re 60, when you’re 70. There’s something to gain out of being in this organization for your lifetime.”