College sophomore Elizabeth Cedillo said she felt alone when she first arrived at the University. After graduating from a Dallas high school where many of her classmates were Latino, Cedillo suddenly found herself adrift in a large university. She searched in vain during her first semester for a group of people to whom she could relate. "I needed something to make me feel comfortable not just as a student, but also culturally," Cedillo said. Cedillo said she found her place last spring when College senior Carmen Maldonado recruited her to join Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a Latino sorority founded last year as a support group for women. Maldonado, who is the chapter's president, said she became interested in starting a chapter of Sigma Lambda Upsilon -- Senoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. -- two years ago when it was first organized at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Currently the chapter has four members, and Maldonado said it will concentrate on community service and networking with other Latino women on campus. They will recruit new members next spring. The sorority plans to participate in several service projects this fall, including tutoring Latino first- and second-graders in North Philadelphia and throwing a Halloween party for the children. They are also working on an AIDS awareness program and sending money to support a child in Colombia. Maldonado said the programs are part of her effort to "perpetuate Latino culture on campus and in the Philadelphia community." She said the sorority will be a member of the Black InterGreek Council, not the Panhellenic Council, because methods of recruitment and initiation are more similar to the predominantly black organizations than to other sororities on campus. Sorority Vice President Ileana Garcia said yesterday that Sigma Lambda Upsilon is the first sorority on campus that she really wanted to join. "I wanted to join a sorority [earlier], but I found that I wasn't attracted enough to those already at the University to go through with it," Wharton junior Garcia said. She added that she enjoys the sorority's focus on community service, and the fact that the organization enabled her to become friends with other Latino women on campus. College junior Lorraine Flores who is the sorority's secretary and president of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, the campus Chicano student organization, said she thinks the sorority is important because it closes the gap between various Latino groups on campus. "We went into this as strangers," said Flores. "We came out as sisters." Currently there are 15 members in the sorority's two other chapters, located at SUNY-Binghamton and the University of Buffalo. Although the University students established the sorority in order to further Latino culture, Maldonado said that at other chapters, several sisters are not of Latin-American descent. "We do not discriminate," Maldonado said. "In other chapters we have women of Korean, Irish and Indian descent too." While acknowledging that the sorority is still "too new to fit in" to the University community, Flores said she is confident that it will become a viable part of the Greek system. "I optimistically do think we will be known [at the University] and known as a positive influence," she said.Comments powered by Disqus
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