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Students establish first chapter of gay fraternity at Ohio State

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Columbus is known as a gay-friendly city, but the gay community at Ohio State discovered a part of campus life that did not have a specific place for them.
That’s what led a few students to establish an OSU chapter of Sigma Phi Beta, a fraternity for gay men.
Ethan Fink, a third-year in psychology and Sigma Phi Beta president said the fraternity will focus on the LGBT community but is also open to any heterosexual that has an interest in LGBT issues as long as the student identifies himself as male.
“I know people in the LGBT community who are in other fraternities and sororities and they function just fine, but there are also those people who might not be as comfortable,” Fink said. “It comes down to whatever works best for the individual.”
The organization started with a group called LGBT Athletes of OSU, and that sparked the idea to start a homosexual fraternity.
Fink contacted the national organization of Sigma Phi Beta and OSU’s Multicultural Greek Council to seek interest in starting a new colony at OSU. The group became an established colony in October, joining eight other MCGC chapters at OSU.
Maxi Henn, a third-year in psychology, is an active brother of Sigma Phi Beta and said the organization has provided him a great support system.
“I don’t think a lot of gay guys have that tight-knit community,” Henn said. “Family sometimes isn’t as supportive as it could be.”
Henn said finding that “home away from home” is really important.
The group has two years to be granted a full charter to become a chapter within MCGC.
Sarah Scisson, a third-year in public affairs and the president of MCGC, oversees OSU organizations as they become established chapters.
Scisson said to meet the MCGC’s requirements to become a chapter, Sigma Phi Beta must host three philanthropy events and a cultural event, perform community service and fulfill all of its standards of excellence, which is a values program set forth by MCGC.
A colony at OSU is involved with the rest of Greek life and has most of the same rights as a chapter. However, a colony cannot vote on issues, such as participating in events or adding new colonies, and its members pay half the dues members of chapters pay.
Fink did not disclose the amount members pay to be a member of Sigma Phi Beta, but said they pay a national fee, an OSU fee and a fee to MCGC.
The organization must also meet national requirements for Sigma Phi Beta, which overlap the MCGC requirements but also include maintaining membership numbers and recruitment.
Sigma Phi Beta has six active brothers and four new members.
Nationally Sigma Phi Beta wants chapters to start with between 10 and 15 members, but MCGC has a minimum of 5 members to become a chapter, said Fink.
Hannah McNamara, a second-year in human development and family science, is a member of Chi Omega, a sorority at OSU, and said she has heard of this new fraternity.
“For me personally, I don’t think it’s necessary, but maybe it is,” McNamara said. “If something like that was formed then it would be because maybe they didn’t feel included.”
Member of Phi Gamma Delta and third-year in linguistics James Hibbard said the gay fraternity is a good opportunity for students who might otherwise not have been involved in Greek life.
“It’s great that people can come together as a common community,” Hibbard said. “No matter what your thoughts or beliefs everyone should have the opportunity to peruse their interests.”
Fink said this fraternity will build a foundation for other generations of gay students at OSU.
“I wouldn’t do anything that isn’t worth it,” Fink said. “It’s not just me, I think about everyone who is going to come after us.”
The Sigma Phi Beta colony at OSU plans receiving help from the national organization to spread awareness to the gay community on campus. Members plan to go to different LBGT groups on campus to promote their organization.
Other students within the Greek community said they were supportive of the new chapter.
Krizzia Yanga, a fourth-year in international business, is the president of the Kappa Phi Lambda sorority. Yanga said she thinks the addition of Sigma Phi Beta will add a new dynamic to Greek life at OSU.
“It’s going to add to our definition of diversity,” Yanga said. “Getting to know the guys (of Sigma Phi Beta) over the past few months, they’re really excited and really willing to put in the work to be a part of our community.”
Scisson said there is currently no sorority specifically for gay females forming at OSU, but Fink said he hopes there will be one in the future.
The organization expects to become a chapter as early as fall.
Sigma Phi Beta was founded in 2003 at Arizona State University. The chapter has since spread to Indiana State University and Middle Tennessee State University, where a colony has formed as well. If chartered, the OSU colony has the potential to be the third or fourth nationwide.

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