Ashley Mikel first saw Team Gamma Rho Lambda during their first year at Arizona State University. They came up to the table, but they didn’t stay.
“I ran off the table in a panic because I wasn’t quite ready to accept this part of myself yet, to truly be who I was,” said Mikel, a final year student studying microbiology.
Then, about a year and a half later, they saw ASU’s LGBTQ+ inclusive club post on Facebook, and then another post in the Student Union.
“I just decided to give it a try,” Mikel said. “I was looking forward to meeting friends and having campus connections and connections to people, and I would say that has been a lifeline for me.”
Mikel ends up doing the interview and joining a sorority.
They are one of nine active sorority members this school year—which will mark the sorority’s 20th anniversary.
Unlike other Greek life, Gamma Rho Lambda is an all-inclusive sorority regardless of gender. in 2019, Modified its recruitment language on a national level to include people of all genders who support the sorority’s purpose. Previously, the organization would only list women and transgender individuals who supported the organization’s purpose as those who could be members.
“We have a lot of members who have learned or learned that they are (transgender) or gender non-conforming through their membership in GRL,” said Sarah Jeter, Gamma Ro Lambda’s national vice president of external communications. “We never wanted our policies to be a stumbling block for someone who needed a space like ours.”
Gamma Rho Lambda at ASU is known as the “Alpha Chapter” because it was the first of eight chapters established under Gamma Rho Lambda’s leadership nationwide.
After its founding in 2003, several women approached the Alpha chapter, and began the process of expanding the club to other campuses.
In 2006, the club had enough alumni members nationwide to support a national council independent of Alpha Chapter. There are now 113 active undergraduate members and 121 active alumni members.
There are two chapters in Arizona, two in Texas, two in Iowa, one in California and one in Virginia.
Gamma Rho Lambda operates without a home, but its members are still able to connect.
“We have a bunch of informal events,” said Hannah Romer, a sorority member retention officer and a student studying global studies. “We have a Discord where someone types in and says, ‘Hey, I’m in the Hayden Library studying for the next three hours, come join if you want,’ and it gives you the opportunity to choose when you want to see someone.”
Not having a house is one reason the cost of membership is “much less than sororities or fraternities that might have a house,” said the organization’s president, Morgan Sividanis, a second-year graduate student studying information technology and forensic science.
Club members can still gain many benefits outside of creating connections with others, such as leadership positions, event management experience, being part of club committees and becoming part of the executive board.
But members emphasized that much of the club’s meaning to them lies in the relationships they make.
Angeline Soto, a second-year graduate student studying cross-border studies, said in her final year as classes and events returned to in-person settings, many of their initial friend groups were somewhat “exhausted” by the pandemic.
Having siblings in a sorority was important to them.
“It was nice to know that I had that assurance, like there was a group of people that were still here for me,” Soto said.
For Soto, it’s “really important” for people to know that Gamma Rho Lambda exists at ASU.
“First, it kind of helps, in pushing Greek life in general away from that image of it being this privileged sector that’s all about parties and so forth. It also opens up these kind of institutions to start sort of… restructuring in a way,” Soto said. : “Makes it open to all.”
Sorority member Roemer was also killed Anti-LGBTQ+ bills in various state legislatures as a reason for the importance of the sorority.
“Just being there, showing that you’re there, that you’re happy to be yourself, that you’re happy to be able to express who you are in any way, just being there, I think that really shows a lot,” Rumer said.
Gamma Rho Lambda is one of ASU’s Greek Life Over 70 different sororities and fraternities.
Sione Vaisa, a freshman at ASU studying business law, said he feels there are changes that need to be made to improve inclusivity in Greek life at ASU.
“I think there are some fraternities and sororities that are very accepting of it, but there are still some that are very accepting of it, and there has to be a change,” Vaisa said.
Like some other sororities and fraternities, Gamma Rho Lambda engages in charitable activities intended to benefit the greater community.
And at the national level, Trevor Project He is the women’s club’s main benefactor, but at the ASU level, the club has other benefactors as well.
The organization does volunteer work and also works with it Aunt Rita Foundationwhich funds local HIV and AIDS service agencies in Arizona.
Even with that work, Sevidanis said the average time a sibling in our organization is committed would be about four to six homes a week max.
In the future, Gamma Rho Lambda University hopes to expand itself and its goals to other universities across the United States. These goals can have a huge impact on people.
“Even when I wasn’t necessarily clearly defined who I was, there were people[in Gamma Rho Lambda]who were very clearly defined and confident in who they were,” Mikel said. “Soon the things I whispered became ordinary conversations, things I shouted from the rooftops.”
Interested students can still follow the club’s recruitment process, which ends next Sunday. More information can be found at his Instagram. The organization will be holding two events this weekend, including one on Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Edited by Gray Garten, Sadie Pagel, and Grace Copperthiet.
Aaron StegelOpinion columnist
Aaron Stegel is an opinion columnist for The State Press. He previously wrote for The Defiant Movement and is currently working towards his BA in Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also working towards a high school diploma in Spanish and a Certificate in Cross Sector Leadership.
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