It looks like the BiCultural InterGreek Council will be going tri-cultural in the near future. Lambda Phi Epsilon, Penn's only Asian-American interest fraternity, plans on becoming a full-fledged member of the umbrella organization sometime next year, according to former Lambda president and Wharton senior Glenn Luk. Lambda, comprised of 27 active members, joined the BIG-C on a probational basis in December of 1999 and has to go through roughly one more year before gaining its official membership, Luk said. At the end of this semester, the BIG-C will vote on whether to admit the group, according to outgoing BIG-C President Marcela Poveda. "Their organization is very impressive," the College senior said. "They definitely followed through with their mission and what they stand for, which is something we look for in the BIG-C." "It's a wonderful opportunity for our brothers," said Lambda President Michael Lee, a College junior. "Hopefully we can make a dramatic impact and unify the racial barriers between different minority groups." The chapter was formerly affiliated with the InterFraternity Council, until it was suspended during the 1996-97 school year. When the organization decided to rejoin an umbrella group, they were looking for something different. "We felt that the IFC wasn't serving our needs," Luk said. "And we felt our interests aligned better with the fraternities and sororities in the BIG-C." Lee said that while fraternity members of the IFC have strong histories to be proud of, they lack the ethnic component that Lambda and the other BIG-C members share. "We have a culture behind us," Lee said. "And we want to show it to people." According to College sophomore Seung Kim, the group's external vice president, joining the BIG-C will help dispel some of the stereotypes that claim Asian Americans are not minorities. "We feel that Asian Americans are often overlooked as a minority because of the model minority myth," Kim said, noting that since Asian Americans are perceived as successful, some people do not believe they face the same disadvantages as other minority groups do. "Sometimes we're brushed aside," he said. He added, "By joining the BIG-C, we hope to reaffirm that we are a minority group and are interested in Asian-American issues." And officers of the fraternity aren't the only ones excited about the prospect of becoming a full-fledged BIG-C member. "I think it'll be good for Lambda, because right now, we're a relatively small organization," Engineering sophomore Jeff Hsu said. "It'll get our name out into the Asian-American community on campus." Since becoming affiliated with the BIG-C, the umbrella organization has helped the fraternity move into a new but temporary house at 130 S. 39th Street last September. Next year, the BIG-C will help the group locate permanent housing. The BIG-C was formerly named the Black InterGreek Council. The name was changed in 1991, three years after two Latino fraternities were admitted into the group. And as far as the current name, the Lambda brothers aren't too worried. "A name is just a name," Lee said. "As long as the goals are set out and the goals are accomplished, [a name] doesn't really make much of a difference." Although Lambda is an Asian interest group, it does not exclude members of any ethnicity, Lee said. In fact, a white brother just graduated from the organization. Lambda's interests are different from the stereotypical Greek image. "We're not all about drinking or all about partying," Lee said. "We try to do something more for the community than just throw parties." And Lambda's members feel that the nature of the brotherhood itself is unique. "I think our goals are pretty simple," Luk said. "We like to concentrate on the tightness of our brotherhood." "I want to be able to come back here and know that I was part of something that made an impact on people," he said. "We try to mold our brothers into leaders." He also mentioned improving community service events, such as Lambda's annual Minority Bone Marrow Drive on Locust Walk during Asian-Pacific American Heritage Week. During this drive, Lambda, with the help of the American Red Cross, encourages members of minorities to register for the bone marrow database, which is lacking in minority entries.
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