Attempt walking on campus without seeing a single greek letter. It’s nearly impossible. Simply going to class one can see numerous people who have shirts proclaiming where their loyalty lies. Chalking on the sidewalks notifies people of events to be held by chapters. Fraternities and sororities alike are represented.
Among the overwhelming number of greek chapters, three are represented that are known as historically Hispanic chapters: the Phi chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, the Iota chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority and the Alpha Xi chapter of Lambda Theta Nu Sorority.
All three focus on equality of race, culture or ethnicity.
“We prefer the term ‘Latino based, multicultural fraternity,'” Edmond Rivera, member of Sigma Lambda Beta and senior in nutrition and health, said.
The chapters’ goals are aimed more towards helping college students, predominantly from Hispanic backgrounds, get through college and further the understanding of culture in society. This does not exclude any person on campus from participating or joining any of the chapters.
“Although we are Latino based, we have members of many different ethnic backgrounds,” Rivera said. “Our chapter alone boasts members from different Latin American backgrounds, Philippines, Hmoob, African Americans and even white students.”
Lanping Zheng, treasurer of the Gammas and junior in mass communications, also pointed out their chapter has more than just Hispanic individuals involved.
“I think cultural awareness is the thing that makes us stand out,” Zheng said. “Even though we now only have 10 active members, we are of great cultural diversity with members coming from Mexico, Puerto Rico, America and China. We all have different views upon something and it brings us fresh insights about the sorority.”
K-State has about 14 Greek chapters that are set on the principle of being multicultural.
“I believe it is highly important to have not only Hispanic greek organizations on campus but every and all types of ethnic greek organizations,” Ingrid Perez, vice president of the Lambdas and senior in management, said. “I imagine if the campus were [more than] 80 percent Hispanic based, and I were a white student coming from Blue Valley where the population is mostly white, I would absolutely feel isolated, unwanted and out of touch with the campus culture. I would want to find a place I belong.”
Perez said she would not want people to feel they have to leave their culture behind.
“I would feel so lonely around people I have never interacted with,” Perez said. “People naturally want to be with people who are like themselves, come from the same background. It’s much easier to navigate through college, and [multicultural greek chapters] makes being the only minority in a classroom just a little less terrifying.”
Students sometimes have no intention of becoming active in greek life when they first come to university.
Rivera was once a skeptic to greek life. Eventually, Rivera said he found something different and welcoming about Beta. Ultimately, the chapter members became a second family to Rivera.
“On a predominately white campus such as K-State, it could easily be overwhelming for young Hispanic students to feel overwhelmed and perhaps unwelcome, especially for those who come from predominately Hispanic communities,” Rivera said. “We, along with the other multicultural groups on campus, provide a sort of haven for these students, where they can come and make new friends, speak their native language and help alleviate any feelings of homesickness.”
Each of these Greek chapters adheres national and local requirements when it comes to programming. Each chapter hosts a wide array of events that bring back cultural and ethnic awareness to college campuses.
One of the requirements of Lambda chapters is to host a Latina Youth Leadership Conference for students in surrounding areas.
“The conference is geared towards young minority girls aging 13 to 18 years to begin cultivating cultural pride, thought of higher education and address other needs our community is facing,” Perez said. “Our philanthropy is Latino literacy, which effects many of our families and many of us can relate to this issue. Our organizations were created to address and rectify many of our needs as a Hispanic population.”
Many of the projects the chapters complete are done so in unison.
“I think we all have a closer relationship than other organizations on campus,” Zheng said. “Since we are not a big community, we can all recognize each member from each organization and save the contacts.”
Last year, the Betas had an event where they made and delivered enchiladas to customers and invited the Gammas to assist in making the food.
Additionally, the Lambdas hosted a lecture instructing people how to dress professionally. Two Gammas helped by dressing and illustrating the way to dress in business casual.
“Various voices are needed at K-State to attain diversity,” Zheng said. “With the increasing number of Hispanic populations, they do need a place to vow their identities. Having these multicultural Hispanic organizations is a way that K-State shows respect to the minorities, which will also brings good reputation to the university.”