On a college campus, there are various types of clubs and organizations that make the college experience worthwhile. An intricate part of Virginia Wesleyan is the various Greek organizations that are currently active on this campus. All of them serve a unique role and have their own, unique presence within campus life. An important part of the Greek community is also welcoming any new member into their organization who share the same values and standards they uphold and believe in.
Two Greek organizations that have recently welcomed new members are Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. As both organizations welcomed their new brothers and sisters, who stood out the most, in particular, was Alpha Phi Alpha. They respectively accepted into their fraternity, junior Cameron Irby and freshmen Ryan Richardson. Although, what makes the fraternity stand out is the recent steps they have taken in order to be even more inclusive, meaning not just within their men, race, etc. but with sexual orientation as well.
Richardson identifies himself as gay and not only wishes to provide more encouragement for other students to join the fraternity but to also bring more diversity within the organization as well. “Hopefully that’ll show people that may have thought ‘Oh, I couldn’t do it because I’m gay’ or because I’m you know, not even gay just like ‘Oh, I’m white, I can’t join because it’s a black fraternity’. Hopefully, this will show them that ‘Oh, I can do it too if I’m interested’ or ‘I can’ not just because this organization says black men. Most people think when they think of a fraternity, they think of real buff, straight guys, but now we all come in different shapes and sizes,” Richardson said.
The Dean and Financial Secretary and Treasurer of Alpha Phi Alpha, Junior Myles Stevens, believes that this is a good sign and step towards growth and progress. “We’re not just remaining stagnant throughout on this campus. From our perspective, for him being openly gay, that shows we’re progressing as a chapter and as individuals. Basically, he beat the odds himself,” said Stevens.
The president of the fraternity, and junior, Anthony Bowden, stressed that being inclusive can only help their members to prosper. “We recognize the fraternity as being an institution to where all men, can grow, meaning of diverse background, as long as you are a male, you are able to join the organization and you still hold high the mission statement as well as the goals and objectives of the fraternity.”
Being open and inclusive to any male is certainly not a new concept for the men of Alpha Phi Alpha. “It first became integrated in 1945 and that was when we let entry of our first member who is not of African American descent, he was actually a white male. Since then we have been growing, since 1906, we’ve really been growing as an organization to accommodate the needs of all males,” Bowden explaineds.
Overall, Richardson is more than happy to be a part of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. “I feel accomplished for one and I also feel like I joined something that is bigger than myself. Now I can actually reach out help people more than just how I was doing before. I can actually touch people in a different light and in a different way.” Richardson also believes that the ability to be inclusive is certainly important as it shows a positive sign of progression. “This is how you grow as an organization.”
As a fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha strongly upholds principles of acceptance. “We say love for all mankind. We recognize not everybody looks like us and not everybody may share the same goals as us, political viewpoints, and sexuality goes in that as well. Not all of us like women, not all of us like men, but we do recognize that we all have that one drive that’s for self-development and using that self-development to better our communities,” Bowden remarked. As Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity continues being inclusive, it can only make the experience for students who are interested in joining even more rewarding.