Many students look to Greek life as a way to find a family during their college journey. There are several organizations that promise this type of close-knit companionship under the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council. However, some minority students still feel that traditional Greek life lacks the closeness offered by multicultural Greek organizations.
Wharton junior Anthony Perry joined his fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, because of how close the brothers were. APA currently has only seven members across Drexel, Penn and Villanova.
“It’s smaller, and you know the people you’re involved with,” said Carol Quezada Olivo, a College junior and member of Sigma Lambda Upsilon\Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. Multicultural Greek organizations are attractive to minority students because of their intimate, tight-knit feel.
Despite the relatively small size of multicultural Greek organizations, they still host several social and charity events throughout the year. Many of these events are similar to traditional Greek events but include a cultural twist.
Monday marked the start of APA’s “Alphadisiac” week, where the fraternity focuses on the appreciation and empowerment of women.
“A lot of the events are centered around our experiences,” Quezada Olivo said. “There’s more of a cultural aspect that relates to our cultural background.”
Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity is a part of the Asian Pacific Student Coalition at Penn and does many events with other Asian organizations on campus.
Similarly, APA has hosted several events on campus that have focused not only on socializing, but also social justice and community service.
Perry recalled one event where he took the lead: a session on personal financial literacy open to Philadelphia-area college students.
Leading such events has boosted his confidence as a leader. “It’s redefined the grit and motivation that I bring every day,” Perry said.
An event that is key to multicultural Greek life, especially for predominantly black and sometimes Latino organizations, is a type of dancing known as strolling or stepping. This is a historically black tradition that involves synchronized dancing, singing and chanting. Many of the cultural Greek organizations perform at the annual step show during the Penn Relays.
President of the Multicultural Greek Council and Wharton junior Kevin Park said he joined LPhiE to be around a culture to which he was accustomed. His work on the council has broadened his knowledge of other cultures.
The process of joining a multicultural fraternity or sorority varies depending on the organization. The rules that they have to follow are more lenient than those of traditional organizations — the rules and timing of pledging are much more flexible — but the process still gives students the feeling of joining something exclusive.
“What [I] really want to emphasize is that these aren’t two different worlds,” said Park, comparing traditional Greek life with multicultural chapters.
Members of multicultural Greek life urged students not to join a group for its prestige or popularity. Joining one of the groups generally requires more individual effort, because the groups are smaller and can be overshadowed by the marquee social fraternities and sororities.
“It’s not just about being around someone who looks like you,” Quezada Olivo said. “It’s about having someone that shares your culture.”
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