Friday, August 24

A-One, a-Two, a Helluva Hullabaloo!

SJE Freshman hard at work in the Hullabaloo office

I've survived my first week of college! Okay... so I haven't even started classes yet. I came to Tulane campus a week early for the Summer Journalism Experience (SJE) with the Tulane Hullabaloo, the completely student-run newspaper on campus. Sixteen freshman were accepted to this program to try their skill as a Hullbaloo journalist before college life and classes really begin. The main reason I applied to this program is because I've been enjoying writing for my blog and can see myself in a career that requires writing for an audience. I figured, journalism is probably an excellent path to learning how to write for large groups of people in a concise yet interesting way. Anyway, I was put on the news team and assigned a story about the new LGBTIQA sorority that's coming to campus later this year. This is the first article I've ever written for a newspaper. Enjoy!

LGBTIQA sorority arriving in the fall

A group of LGBT students and allies have formed an interest group toward founding a chapter of Gamma Rho Lamba, an LGBTIQA sorority, which will become an official chapter of GRL in September.

Junior Courtney Amabile, president of the GRL sorority interest group, believes that a new sorority is necessary to provide a welcoming group for LGBTIQA women who felt excluded from traditional sorority life.

“We wanted the same experience, the same sisterhood,” Amabile said. “But at the same time, we can’t change who we are and we’re not going to for anybody.”

Amabile and two other students approached Liz Schafer, director of fraternity and sorority programs, with a proposal to form a new sorority for LGBTIQA students and allies.

Schafer said that the students were well-organized and clearly driven.

“I think Tulane has always had a pretty welcoming environment for LGBT students,” Schafer said. “So we said, ‘sure, why not? See what you can find out.’”

Supporters of the interest group believe that the anticipated sorority will provide LGBTIQA students with a more accepting atmosphere than a traditional Greek organization. Lauren Kwiatkowski, Former Student Women Embracing Equality at Tulane president believes GRL could provide an inclusive and secure group for these students who might not feel at home in another sorority.

“Greek life, at all universities, has traditionally been stigmatized for not being particularly inclusive of the LGBTQ community,” Kwiatkowski said. “Since there’s now an option, queer students - particularly queer females - now feel that they’re not a step back, behind or below their other students because of their sexual and/or gender identity. It’s definitely a great step for the queer community, and, honestly, female community overall.”

Schafer said she was surprised by the positive and encouraging reaction from other Greek organizations when they learned about the possibility of an LGBT sorority.

Amabile said she is still worried about negative feedback from other groups on campus. She is, however, optimistic that GRL would effectively spread tolerance throughout the Greek system and all of Tulane.

“My main concern going into this is the backlash from other sororities and other groups, fraternities especially,” Amabile said.

She believes, however, the sorority will make way for a new way of thinking.

“I believe it will provide a break in the stereotype of sororities and help facilitate conversation for other multicultural groups or Greek organizations to form as student want and need shows fit,” Amabile said.

The national organization is coming to campus in September to induct the leaders of the group. After that, the group will be considered an official chapter of Gamma Rho Lambda, and recruitment will be open to all students who identify themselves women. Amabile made it clear that GRL will not be exclusively for LGBTIQA students.

“Over half of our members are straight, or ally-identified,” Amabile said. “They also identify as feminists, progressive women, women who don't necessarily follow the grain of society.”

The GRL sorority interest group has several plans for the upcoming year after it reaches full chapter status, such as participating in Safe Zone training, hosting a Pride Prom, and working alongside the organization BreakOUT! to combat the criminalization of LGBTIQA youth in the New Orleans area.

Tulane will be welcoming two other new sororities to campus. Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will come in the spring, and depending on this year’s recruitment numbers, the next new sorority will arrive in either 2014 or 2015.

SJE took a boat tour through a Louisiana swamp--and the gators were not shy