Assistant News Editor
At the Fraternity and Sorority Standards of Excellence Conference which was held on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019, “LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the Greek World” was a newly hosted event. The event’s main presentation was a Q&A panel aimed at promoting a conversation among the U.C. Santa Barbara (UCSB) Greek community regarding its LGBTQ+ members.
The annual community-wide educational event collaborated with the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity (RCSGD) to place the panel within the conference. The breakout session was aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity to make Greek life at UCSB a more accepting environment; it was one of the first council-wide Greek initiatives to involve the LGBTQ+ community.
The panel focused on discussing personal experiences regarding being dual members of the Greek and LGBTQ+ communities, such as topics focused on recruitment, proposing gender-neutral terminology in fraternity/sorority houses, and addressing problematic language and behavior. As the first panel to address the subject of LGBTQ+ in Greek life, it highlighted the perceptions of why LGBTQ+ members decide to join the Greek community. A handful of individuals were able to discuss their responses in building a more inclusive and diverse Greek community at UCSB.
“We hope this panel serves as the beginning of a long journey towards inclusion and acceptance, and inspires other students to speak out and make it known that everyone can be welcomed here with open arms, regardless of race, background, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” Richard Archer, one of the main student coordinators of “LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the Greek World” this year, said in an interview with The Bottom Line. “Greek life is for everyone, and we demonstrated that with this panel.”
Archer (he/him) is a fourth-year political science and philosophy double major and former president of Kappa Sigma who worked alongside his partner, Marya Hosseinpur, to organize the session.
Quinn Solis (they/them), the Associate Director of the RCSGD who leads the Queer/Trans Identities and Experiences Seminars for various campus groups and student education coordinator, and Student Education Coordinator Adrian Viloria (they/them), helped adapt the event’s curriculum to the Greek audience to facilitate an ongoing conversation. The attendees offered personal insight and suggestions for change of positive perspectives, while RCSGD staff was able to present their resources such as issues and action items.
“All of us were pleasantly surprised with the turnout of this event, and we’re sure it won’t be the last,” Archer said. “The plan was for the event to consist only of a presentation and question and answer with the student panel, but we were surprised by how much the audience wanted to participate.”
Among the panelists was Delcia Orona (she/her), a fourth-year anthropology major with a linguistics minor, who is part of Gamma Phi Beta at UCSB.
“The idea of being LGBTQ+ and Greek, even on a progressive campus such as UCSB, is still strung with a multitude of biases and stereotypes,” Orona shared. “But what better way to begin addressing this than to have a panel about it?”
While the Greek community only composes 11 percent of the UCSB population, the RCSGD sponsors programs for multiple campus departments to provide any student with information on LGBTQ+ inclusivity within their own groups. The Fraternity and Sorority Standards of Excellence Conference’s session this year was an introductory promotion for LGBTQ+ inclusion within Greek Life at UCSB.
“I truly believe that if we see the Greek community taking a stance of inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, I think it will really set a standard for the entire campus community as a whole,” Orona stated. “I believe panels such as these are a good first step in addressing our history and taking a point of accountability.”
To foster the identification of being a member of either or both communities, the “LGBTQ+ Inclusion in the Greek World” greeted the intersection of two prominent populations at UCSB for the first time, and they do not plan to stop there.
“It’s 2020, and all of us should begin incorporating inclusivity and acceptance of LGBTQ+ community into our lives and day-to-day interactions, and encouraging others around us to do the same,” Orona closed.