Gannon University’s chapter of the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha (PKA) has made its mission to bring education, understanding and tolerance to the Gannon campus by being the first organization to step forward and lead the way in bridging the path for the future students who identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning and their allies.
Mike Groesch, president of PKA, said, “I am especially excited for us to support the LIFE group in their endeavors this semester so that future generations of both organizations can follow our lead.”
Groesch and Matt Kridel, the president of LIFE, along with the other members of both executive boards, have been instrumental to make available opportunities to unite the members of both groups.
Groesch said that the fraternity has done a few events with LIFE and have more planned for the rest of this semester, including a big event and a social event the day after. “We have got nothing but positive feedback from the Gannon Community and we’re looking to keep this going,” Groesch said.
The event “The Day of Silence,” will take place on April 20.
The National Day of Silence is a program sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), at which students across America make a promise to be silent in some way in order to call attention to the bullying and suffering that effects students.
This is a movement to bring change to the lives of so many who may otherwise commit suicide.
Jade Mitchell, a sophomore theatre and communication arts major, she said she believes that the commitment that PKA has made with LIFE “will have a huge impact on the student body’s efforts to end sexuality-based bullying.”
Mitchell said she is hopeful that the pairing will bring about change and she believes that, with PKA’s enthusiasm and large chapter size, LIFE’s education, support and anti-bullying programs will gain three times the momentum.
The frequent meetings at the One Green World Café with members include an open have been bullied and felt alienated.
Putting an end to discrimination is a focus of LIFE, and Matt Germeyer, a theatre and communication arts major, believes that “it is good to see a large group of good men like the PKAs being the first to step up to the plate and join LIFE openly in this fight to get the message that love is for everyone (LIFE).”
Looking back on the work accomplished to this point, LIFE President Kridel is looking forward to the “Day of Silence” and hopes it is as successful as the Valentine’s Day carnation sales.
“We had an excellent fundraiser selling carnations, and I am really looking forward to the April 20 event The Day of Silence, Kridel said.
During the week of St. Valentine, the two groups met in the Waldron Center and sold donated carnations.
There was also the cycle for life sponsored by PKA that also gave the groups an opportunity to be involved in service together.
There are tentative date plans for members of the PKA fraternity to become members of the LIFE group as a way to continue to show unity. Members of PKA wear wristbands sold by LIFE.
The wristbands are blue with yellow lettering that reads “I AM ME” and “LIFE.” The plans for a movie night and a formal gathering and mixer are in the works.
Matt Crays, PKA’s community service, campus and community relations chairman, said he has high expectations for the model that is being produced. Crays said he remembers the fraternity’s initial response. “Some brothers were confused as to what could be accomplished by the joining of the two groups,” he said.
“I was merely trying to get a feel of how our organization’s participation would help relations on campus. We Pikes share values such as the equal treatment of every human being no matter what their sex, race, religion or sexual orientation.”
Drawing on resources from the PKA community and the greater Erie community, LIFE is able to grow and Crays said, “Life can grow in both numbers and popularity – through this they can gain support from both Gannon and the community for values that they hold true.”
The two groups are working together to bring about a change in the future, and there will be events held that give the groups the opportunity to work together
On April 3, there will be the “Take Back the Night” walk which spreads awareness about sexual violence.
On Sunday there will be a meet and greet at the PKA house to bring members together to share stories.
The movie night that will be held this semester is also in the works and there is talk about the future events like bowling night.
Ellen Walsh, a professor of history, said, “I am encouraged by the two groups’ commitment to engage with each other. Catholic social teaching emphasizes the dignity of each human person — sexuality and social connections are inherent to the human condition.
“This new collaboration will provide a venue for students to critically examine their thoughts, beliefs, and preconceptions about others,” Walsh said. “Done with respect, humility, and openness, this process can help us recognize the value of each individual, reveal commonalities among differences, and show how differences can enrich our community.”