Pi Lambda Phi, one of the fraternities at the UVa-Wise, hosted a forum in the C. Bascom Slemp Student Center on February 7.
The current president of Pi Lambda Phi, Michael Sutherland, a senior at UVA-Wise majoring in psychology, opened the forum by explaining the roots of Pi Lambda Phi. He explained the founding of the fraternity at Yale, and then went to explain the organizations philanthropy, which is the elimination of prejudice. This set the mood for the entire evening as guest speakers shared their moving stories.
The first speaker, Tom Hill, a Southwest Virginia native, shared his emotional story of struggling with the prejudices he faced growing up because of his sexual orientation. Hill displayed extreme bravery as he explained the lack of support he faced from his immediate family. With tears in his eyes, he described the hardship of being almost truly alone in his childhood. As this brave human being revealed what hardships were forced upon his shoulders, the room fell awfully silent. Tom recalled the accounts of bullying he had to endure, none of which a human should have to experience for something as simple as attraction. Although Tom struggled for such a long time, he left the audience with a piece of advice, “Surround yourself with positivity and love…” he exclaimed at the end of his appearance.
As the forum moved along and Mr. Sutherland introduced new faces, one guest speaker left a true impact with guests. Dr. Margie Tucker, professor of Chemistry at UVA-Wise, was introduced to the audience. Dr. Tucker began by explaining how she has been affected by prejudice for her religious views, but then drew the attention off of herself. She began explaining the difference between her generation and the current youth of America. She told the crowd of how she was so ashamed of the prejudice that was prevalent during the 20th century. She then told those in attendance how she was so joyful to see youth working with such enthusiasm to eliminate the prejudgement that America still possess in the 21st century. As she finished her speech, Dr. Tucker reminded the crowd to never give up, no matter what hardships they might have to endure.
Once all the guest speakers had made their appearance and the forum was coming to a close, Sutherland thanked all of those who gave their time to participate. And so, the students and teachers who attended made their way out of the room, and the brothers of Pi Lambda Phi grouped up for a photo to document this truly remarkable evening. The brothers of Pi Lambda Phi displayed the values of compassion, love, and acceptance by organizing an event which displayed the horrific prejudices some of our fellow humans have to endure, and then welcoming those who have been abused and hurt with open arms and acceptance.