Gender-inclusive fraternity joins Multicultural Greek Council

Sigma Omicron Rho hopes new status sets precedent for other colleges

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The Alpha Chapter at the University is the founding and sole chapter of Sigma Omicron Rho and one of only a few recognized gender-inclusive fraternities around the nation.

Sigma Omicron Rho, an LGBTQ and Allied fraternity, was recently voted into the Multicultural Greek Council, making it the first University-recognized gender-inclusive fraternity on Grounds.

Past executive boards of Sigma Omicron Rho, which has existed as a CIO since 2009, have considered applying for status as a recognized fraternity, but did not know how to pursue it, Sigma Omicron Rho President Acacia Dai said.

“Last year our previous president was the first to try to contact [Fraternity and Sorority Life] and figure out what the requirements were,” Dai said. “There is no precedent for a gender-inclusive fraternity at U.Va.”

Dai, a third-year College student, said she hopes Sigma Omicron Rho’s recognition at the University will set a precedent for similar organizations at other schools in Virginia.

“Being recognized here is the first step to potentially help out other chapters,” Dai said.

The Alpha Chapter at the University is the founding — and sole — chapter of Sigma Omicron Rho. It is one of few recognized gender-inclusive fraternities around the nation, said Scott Rheinheimer, LGBTQ Student Services and Center coordinator.

“It’s a pretty big deal for U.Va. to do this, especially at a traditional institution where Greek life is vital to the student body…and [to] the culture in general,” Rheinheimer said.

Rheinheimer said that while the Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council are working to be more inclusive of transgender and gender nonconforming students, the formal recognition of Sigma Omicron Rho provides an opportunity for any student who may not want to join a traditionally gendered organization.

By being gender-inclusive, Sigma Omicron Rho takes components of both fraternity and sorority life while engaging in discussions of the exclusivity of traditional Greek institutions, Sigma Omicron Rho Vice President Zee Huff said.

“It kind of takes back fraternity culture in a lot of ways, which can sometimes seem a little exclusive,” the third-year College student said.

Support from the administration also helps to make existing resources more visible to students looking for safe spaces on Grounds, Dai said.

“The five original founders felt like they couldn’t find a space on Grounds,” Dai said. “They formed this group where they could define what the values could be and would also be open to others looking for a space that didn’t exist.”

Overall, Dai said she hopes Sigma Omicron Rho can be an example to other groups within Multicultural Greek Council and University Greek life as well as to similar groups at other colleges and universities.

“You can be gender inclusive and be a great organization,” Dai said.

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