By Molly Sanders Kansas State Collegian
With strong composure and a rare self-assurance, Chelsey Fritch relayed with pride how her dream of bringing a progressive sorority to K-State became a reality.
Fritch, senior in music theater and president of Gamma Rho Lambda, said she started working to bring a chapter to K-State’s campus in 2006 and made it official in 2008. Gamma Rho Lambda, sometimes dubbed the “lesbian sorority,” is not just for lesbians. It also has several straight members and allied members – women who are not gay but are supportive of the sorority’s cause.
“Calling [Gamma Rho Lambda] a lesbian sorority is highly inaccurate,” Fritch said. “It’s a sorority for lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered and allied women. Calling it a lesbian sorority is leaving out a huge chunk of our members, including several straight women and a transgendered adviser.”
One of Fritch’s motivations for bringing a chapter to K-State was the end of the Gay-Straight Alliance at K-State in 2006.
She said when the GSA was no longer active, the only place for members of the gay community to find support was the progressive fraternity, leaving little to no support for lesbians.
“It was just something I wanted to do,” Fritch said. “I felt it was important … and the men had a house, so why not the women? It just made sense to me.”
Though the sorority welcomes anyone and has been relatively well-received on campus, some think there is a rift between Gamma Rho Lambda and other greek organizations. The house is a National Panhellenic Council member, and they hold mixers and formals just like other sororities. The house has also paired with other greeks’ philanthropies, like Earth Ball.
One of the main goals of the sorority is to get more tolerance and acceptance from the community and to be recognized as a respectable, responsible group. Fritch also said she thinks students overlook the advantages of having a progressive women’s group on campus in terms of overall diversity.
Though the sorority might have met more opposition at K-State in comparison to other universities because of the relatively conservative outlook of the community, Fritch said she was not afraid of the challenge.
“I’ve never taken the easy road anywhere,” she said. “So why start now?”
Fritch said the close-knit community is one of the biggest attributes of the sorority. The women promote sisterhood, just like any other sorority, but Fritch said she thinks they go beyond that.
“We’ve had a lot of women who have come out to their families, even just as allies, who have been completely disowned,” Fritch said. “So, it’s more than a sisterhood. It’s a family. For some women, this is the only family they’ve got.”
As president, Fritch knows the group has a long way to go and is working hard to make sure the sorority will be ready to move on and move forward after she leaves in December. She has already begun making plans for the transition by having other members shadow her.
Gamma Rho Lamda might face more difficulties after her departure without a central location. As an un-housed sorority, they usually have chapter at Fritch’s house or at Bluestem Bistro in Aggieville. Fritch said the sorority is not looking for a house and said she does not think it needs one to keep improving.
“We’re always working to increase our numbers and increase education amongst ourselves,” she said. “But as long as that stays strong, the sorority will stay strong.”