Ticking clock: Decision on gay fraternity delayed

Ten months since its formation, the fate of Out on Rugby, a group of UVA students attempting to establish a gay-friendly fraternity, still hangs in the balance.

On Tuesday, February 17, dwindling fraternity membership caused UVA's Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) to extend Out on Rugby's probationary period for at least another month.

The MGC asked for greater proof of student body interest and cited its apprehension "that the group currently consists of six members but is not allowed to colonize without a minimum of eight," the mandate from the group's national, Delta Lambda Phi.

The current president of the MGC, fourth-year Melody Han, declined interview requests following release of the decision. Out on Rugby organizer Anthony Whitten also refused comment.

"Officially," Whitten says, "Out on Rugby is not making any statements about [the] delay in voting. We're focusing our efforts on our rush period and meeting the demands of the MGC."

Less than a week following the MGC's deferral, the current members of Out on Rugby are on their way to meeting the MGC's demands.

Whitten says, "If approved for membership by the MGC, the graduation of the four members, including myself, from Out on Rugby will not delay the arrival of Delta Lambda Phi to the University. We have just completed an intake period offering membership to six additional men which will ensure that Out on Rugby will be able to meet the minimal number required."

Out on Rugby organizers began their quest last year to create a fraternity for "gay, bisexual, and progressive men." Creation of such a fraternity would put them under the MGC– a Greek governing council that, according to assistant dean of students Aaron Laushway, promotes "multiculturalism and diversity."

Fourth-year Out on Rugby member Matthew Baldwin hopes the establishment of such a fraternity will help further that MGC goal.

"I would personally like to see the atmosphere at UVA a little more integrated," says Baldwin. "I would like to have more of a place at UVA."

There has not been any substantive public opposition to the fraternity.

"What Out on Rugby hopes to do," says Laushway, "is to provide a brotherhood that advances the conversation and the level of tolerance of people who are gay, straight, bisexual, to embrace, in an open way, fraternal life, and that's to be applauded."

Matthew Peterson, a fourth-year member of Alpha Tau Omega, which is governed by the Interfraternity Council, says, "I don't think there are too many openly gay men in Greek organizations because there's a perceived stigma against such behavior. Fraternity men ... are supposed to love chicks, football, getting wasted... Being homosexual is seen by the general public and members of the Greek community as running counter to this."

"Our greatest challenge has been time," says Out on Rugby president Whitten. When he graduates this year, he hopes to leave Out on Rugby as a legacy that will benefit both current and future students by helping to "destigmatize" homosexuality and "provide growth to the University."

Out on Rugby organizer Anthony Whitten at home on the Range. <br>PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO