February 18, 2009

Multicultural Greek Groups Seek to Expand Reach

Print More

For those who desire a unique cultural experience from fraternities or sororities, the Multicultural Greek Letter Council offers several options. While most who take part in multicultural rush come from minority groups, the organizations stress that by no means do they exclude based on race.
This year, MGLC recruitment has seen an increase in interest, which corresponds with an increase in prospective rushees across Greek organizations on campus. Over the past few years, “Greek life has expanded,” said Nicholas Diaz ’10, president of MGLC. “We’ve gone from four chapters to 17.” 
He attributed this expansion to “an attempt to get more exposure for the multicultural Greek community.” After the general Meet the Greeks information session held at the beginning of each semester, which introduces the different fraternities and sororities, the rush process varies from chapter to chapter.
Many of these organizations are reluctant to refer to  their recruitment process as rush. 
“We call it the membership intake process,” explained Brandon Beatty ’10, chapter president of Phi Beta Sigma, a historically black fraternity. In Phi Beta Sigma, the intake process spans six to eight weeks when potential members learn different the traditions of the fraternity.
Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, an Asian interest sorority, has a 10-day rush that features eight events. A prospective member must attend two events, which range from spa night to parties with the chapter’s brother fraternity, and one information session to be eligible to join the sorority. Then potential members go through an interview. The main purpose of rush is for the “entire house to get to know rushees intimately,”said chapter President Melissa Yee ’10. “Rushees can get a taste of Greek life and our house dynamic and see if it’s right for them.”
For some organizations, rush  is not a regularly scheduled event. Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority, only accepts new members when they have a need, like when several older members are graduating or if many people express interest in joining the organization. Once they decide to hold rush, prospective members can attend several informational meetings and submit an application.
When a candidate applies, the national organization has the power to decide whether or not to admit them into the sorority. President Lauren Jennings ’10 explains that “our national organization has the last say, so even if we vote no on somebody, if they have the qualifications they’ll get in.” Other chapters have more discretion. The women of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a Latina sorority, decide whether or not prospective members even receives application.
While the qualifications for admission vary from chapter to chapter, they similarly echo common themes of leadership and community service. “The application says you have to have high ethical and moral standards,” Jennings said, but she admitted, it really came down to “people who are known around campus.
 “We try to get a mix of people that people know and others that people don’t know, so it’s not just a popularity contest,”she added.
For Sigma Lambda Upsilon, the most important qualities, according to chapter President Sasha Lopez ’10, are academic excellence, community service and time management skills.
 Lopez pointed out that her organization is looking for women who will “continue working with the sorority even after they graduate.” 
As Beatty noted, “how much of an asset [the candidate] would be for the fraternity” is one of the major factors in deciding if a prospective member is right for the organization. Yee put less emphasis on future contributions, but agreed that her organization looks for “leadership capabilities and sisterhood.”
According to Yee, such values provide a compelling reason to join an organization made up of people with the same cultural background. In groups of people with similar cultural backgrounds, Yee said, “there are certain values that are emphasized more than others.” 
In the end, however, the most important quality is personal compatibility. Tian Liang ’10, chapter president of Pi Delta Psi, an Asian interest fraternity, stated in an e-mail that while a fraternity asks whether a pledge will “uphold the ideals of the fraternity” and be able to “help lead the fraternity in the future,” the most important question is “do you like the person and see yourself being close friends with him?”