Sunday, November 26, 2006
I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and didn't blow out any buttons on your pants! In a follow up to the last message where I posted Shawn Selby's letter to the editor of the Rainbow, I have a response from a brother, with his questions concerning the letter. So here is that series of emails.
Rick Kramer wrote:
It has been quite some time since I visited or truly understood the current culture of the house. Since you have recently taken a more active approach to the current events there, I thought I would ask you for your analysis as to the meaning of this public controversy. After reading Shawn's letter I was pleased to understand of his strong stand against discrimination. He is a credit to our chapter.
My question for you is, has it become one of the primary goals of the house culture to be focused on the cause to eliminate discrimination against gays? Does the Marietta College community view the Delt House in this way? Is this a case of Brother Romine from Texas simply showing us intolerance and values from the past that only heterosexual men need apply?
I ask these questions to better understand the current events and issues that the undergraduate brothers are focused upon and the meaning of this public controversy.
Rick Kramer '75
My response to Rick follows. (At this point I have to say that I have referred to Rick as a past president of EY, he isn't. He is a past VP, and I apologize for that misinformation)
I'm going to asnwer you directly, and then I'm sure I'll deal with your question in my next email. Because it is something that affects all of us. I discussed it with Shawn last night. And he asked me what I meant by my comment. I think that for us Alums, especially from our time, it will be an issue due to the conception that the Delts were a gay house at the time we were formed. And how hard we worked to dispel that notion. I suspect that there are some of us who are about as homophobic as Romine is, and that also is a reason that we need to deal with the issue, especially if we are to have an active alumni base (which is something that I'm coming to realize that I'm interested in helping create).
I don't think that it is a part of the chapter program to elimminate discrimination against gays at all. From what I have seen, it isn't an issue at all. When I go to the house for functions I see women all over the place (damn good looking ones at that!). There is little "public displays of affection," by members of either sex.
I think that the chapter has decided that gay/straight is just not an issue at all. They are interested in recruiting quality guys, and that is the bottom line. With 55 members, and some (about 1/2 dozen, I think) being gay I don't see where it is a problem for the house. I get copies of the undergrad meeting minutes every week (you can also if you are interested -- let me know and I'll see about getting you put
on the email list) and the social chairman is quite often (a couple of times a month) reporting that one of the sororities wants to have a social event with us. That in itself is a HUGE change from our years, remember?
Have you read the last couple of issues of the Rainbow? This came about because in the June issue there were several articles about diversity and 2 of them were written by EU men, 1 of which is openly gay. They were well written articles I think. Brother Romine from Texas wrote a letter to the editor in the next issue of the Rainbow (which I inadvertently threw out) saying that EU should be "drummed out" of the fraternity. This is the letter that Shawn was responding to.
I hope that is some help to you. If you have more questions, I'll put you in contact with a person who, hopefully, can help more. Have a good weekend, Rick
I forwarded his letter to Shawn Selby for his information. He sent a note to Rick which follows below:
Rick Neel forwarded to me a copy of the email that you sent him. I hope you do not mind that he did that, and I hope he does not mind that I'm emailing you back (I'm copying Rick Neel on this email so that he knows that I'm writing you back!)
I don't recall if I ever met you, but I certainly do remember you from the composites from the early 1970s hanging in the house. I am certainly pleased to have this opportunity to talk with a former Chapter President and a brother alumnus from the Chapter's earlier years!
Thank you for your kind words about my letter and about me. I really do appreciate them. I was/am worried that in responding to defend the Chapter and the beating it has taken from Delt alumni elsewhere that in some ways I might be provoking a war among Epsilon Upsilon's alumni.
But I take my stand on principles. Not just my own principles, but on the Delt Principles.
Even though I'm not an undergraduate, I've spent a good amount of time with the current crop of them in the past year and have gotten to know most of them well. So I'll venture an answer to your question, though I certainly reccommend you ask the Chapter directly. Chapter President Craig Sundstrom would be a good person to start with.
First I'd like to make a general observation. In addition to knowing the young men in the Chapter, I know a lot of young men and women in ranging from 18 to 26. This whole age cohort, it seems, really does not care about people's sexual orientation as an issue.
They've grown up seeing accurate and positive portrayals of gay men and women. They've seen the ugly side of homophobia at an early age (Matthew Shepherd). And they've heard -- and rejected -- the anti-gay rhetoric and tactics of many religous and political leaders. They've seen their gay and lesbian friends come out in high school.
As a whole, they do not buy into the "homosexuality is choice" meme. They understand that gay people are born that way. And they don't like the concept of discriminating against gay people.
That being said, like any large group, just because a majority feel a certain way, there will always be a minority that thinks in the opposite direction.
In the case of fraternities, they have by nature been "conservative" and bastions against "differentness," so it easily understandable if fraternity chapters display or practice homophobia.
In some ways, one could argue that in a setting where a bunch guys are living together almost invites jokes, and that would lead to fraternity members displaying homophobic behavior to counter those jokes. We've all been there, no matter when we were in school.
So to get to the point, the (heterosexual) members of the current chapter come from the perspective that many of their age cohort have: that gay people are no different from straight people; discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong.
So it has been a mostly easy and natural step for them deal with fellow undergrad brothers coming out as gay, and it has been easy for them to accept gay pledges.
They certainly do not "promote" homosexuality; over 90 percent of them are straight. They just merely accept that a brother's (different) sexual orientation is just merely one facet in their whole personage.
At the same time, I also do not see their acceptance of gay brothers as a mission to fight against discrimnation toward gay people; they are just going about their business of trying build a good, strong chapter and populating it with as many good people as they can find, with no regard to their orientation.
So I think it is to their credit that they are accepting of their gay brothers and have no problem with bidding someone who is gay. But they did not arrive in this place "on purpose" as some kind of goal to achieve. It just happened because it naturally seems right to them.
Any way, I think I'll stop now. I look forward to talking to you more, and hopefully you'll be coming to the 40th anniversary in 2008 and I'll have a chance to greet you in person.
Shawn Selby '92
I think that about covers this subject, so unless I get some more comments about it, I'm going to let it rest.
I have some news about our Blog spot. I hope that you are making some use of it. It is located at: http://mcdeltalumni.blogspot.com/ I'm happy to report that in just over a week, since we updated it, there have been over 100 visits to it. Thanks, Delts! Feel free to leave comments on any post that you read.
We have some new addresses for you to add to your email list. Some of these came with notes. So here goes.
Tom Tintera writes:
Here is a blast from the past, one of the original founding brothers, it makes me sound so old. Life is good in the Northwest, specifically, Hillsboro, Oregon. I graduated from Lewis and Clark Law School in 1981 and began my career as a prosecutor in Hillsboro the next year. I am a Senior Deputy and I have been here 24 years. Married, two kids, 10 acres at the top ridge of Chehalem Mountain (elev 1300 feet), 2 MG's etc.
Brian Dobis sends:
Good to hear from you on the chapter's behalf. Keep me in the loop and I look forward to participating in the festivities!
Brian Dobis '03
Martin "Cowboy" Santini sends this along:
Rick: Yes you emailed the one and only old time Cowboy from the mid-70's. I am still in the Marietta area at Warren Schools, (that's the wl in the e-mail). I hope you are doing fine and living good.
Talk to you soon.
Martin "Cowboy" Santini, class of 1978
To all of you, welcome. Keep us informed as to what you are doing. Remember, we have our annual alumni golf outing coming up in April. The dates for homecoming in 2007 have been announced, as well as the tentative dates for 2008. That is the one we are pointing toward. It will be our 40th anniversary on the Marietta campus. We want a huge turnout, so hold that weekend in October open for DTD. (The dates are listed in my email #30 at the blog).
Here are the rest of the new names for you. They are from a lot of different decades, so hopefully someone you have been looking for will be listed! Justin Nethers '05, Ken Mard '03, Michael Simmons '96, Matt Christman '94, Chris Bennett '92, Peter Noll '86, Jeffrey Osler '82, David Silverstein '79, Gary Boyd '71, David Dessen '69, Greg Maloof '67, Martin Santini '78, Jason Jialanella '03, Brian Dobis '03, John DeVito '71, Tom Tintera '71, Rich Stocks '79, Shea McGrew '79. Our full list is availiable at: ***addresses and link have been removed due to privacy issues. If you need the information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org***
Take advantage and write to someone you haven't talked to in awhile. It will make them feel good, and you too, I guarantee it!
You all didn't do too well in helping me find the missing Delts that I listed last week, so here are some more. These names are listed in our email list, and I have been getting notices that they are no good for a while now, so you can remove them from your lists. If you can get in touch with them, please get me a current email address. Thanks! Remember, when you change yours let us know. Michael Conaty, John McMenamin, Rich Hruska, Alan Head, Mark Russell, Ric Gough, Joe Baker, and Lance Zant.
Sorry this is so long, hope that you have a good week.
Rick Neel '73