In the spring at Denison University, Greek life on campus is particularly visible. Funny photos from high school appear on the Slayter stairs in the days leading up to a sorority big-little reveal, while students sport their letters as they head from class to class. Elsewhere, fundraising signs and event posters flash red and silver, or bold strokes of purple and pink. Not all these groups are traditionally Greek, however. On campus, there are many Denisonians who choose to take a different route.
The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) and the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) provide students looking to immerse themselves in cultural traditions a place to find community engagement, support, and long-lasting friendships. Though similar to their Interfraternity Council (IFC) and Panhellenic (NPC) counterparts on and around the hill in form and some function, they’re different from them as well in many ways. Below, members of both MGC and NPHC fraternities and sororities share their thoughts on joining and enjoying affiliation.
1. What in your opinion is the most rewarding part of being in a multicultural sorority/fraternity in particular? In other words, why did you choose to join, and what makes your group unique?
Rafa Guzman, Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc
“I would say that I chose to join because I associated myself with the ideals of my fraternity. Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. is a Latino fraternity and I am Latino. I saw it as a way to showcase my culture and my identity at Denison’s campus… and also spread service by helping those in need. For example, we have had fundraisers that have helped build a school in Latin America for kids in need or helped to fundraise when natural disasters occur such as Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean. All this was possible through UNICEF, which is our philanthropy. Something that makes us unique is the diverse backgrounds that we currently have. We have brothers that are Chinese American, Mexican American, Guatemalan/Vietnamese and White just to name a few and that diversity, in my opinion, is amazing for a campus as small as Denison… The most rewarding part about being in a multicultural fraternity is the bond that you make with your brothers.”
Mayra Torres, Alpha Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc
“Being a part of a multicultural Greek organization is fulfilling in terms of interpersonal, exponential growth and an endless support system. I joined Alpha Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc. because it gave me a greater understanding of cultural identity and the family I never knew I needed. It gave me a home away from home. The most compelling factor was the empowering sisterhood that accepted me for who I am and everything that I am despite our differences. ASR gave me the foundation to confidently grow out of my comfort zone and strive for greater opportunities.”
Tariq Longsworth, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc
“I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Rho Upsilon Chapter, which is an organization a part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council… I would say the most rewarding part of my fraternity is [its] history. Alpha Phi Alpha is the first intercollegiate fraternity for African-American men since 1906. Knowing the history and the context in which this organization was formed and what men of this organization stand for is something I hold dear to my heart. There’s something of value to me of being the first and not following in others’ footsteps. The men of Alpha have led the way and cleared the path for the subsequent eight other NPHC organizations, along with other organizations outside of our council who have felt our influence. The culture of being in a Black Greek Letter organization is not matched even though it has been copied over the century, and I am glad to be a part of the originators.”
2. For those who aren’t a part of your fraternity or sorority, how would you explain the process of becoming affiliated? Does your group have a recruitment process? When and how does this take place?
“Every multicultural Greek organization has its own recruitment process that makes their organization unique. For my fraternity, the process has a sense of secrecy. This is because we like for others to be surprised when they see that someone, they perhaps knew joined the organization. What we can say is that first, the person has to show interest in the fraternity by coming to our events and informational which usually happens once every semester. Throughout the process, we like to focus on professional, academic and personal growth… this process usually takes place either fall or spring semester with first years only being able to do it during their spring semester.”
Alpha Sigma Rho:
“Like most multicultural Greek organizations, becoming an active member requires the completion of an educational process, often completely confidential. This process can be rigorous and time-consuming, but it is one that transforms you. The educational process is set to help new members or interests learn the true capacity of their nature as an individual and as a collective. It is important to note that we earn our letters. Letters are the Greek letters that ride across our line jackets or shirts or paraphernalia. They are symbolic to us because through hard work, dedication, and perseverance, we earn our position as active members of said organizations. In the case of Alpha Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc., this all stands true.
Alpha Phi Alpha:
“The process in which someone embarks on to become a member of my organization, Alpha Phi Alpha, or another National Pan-Hellenic Council, is through discretion and research. Our process is individualistic, meaning that if you choose to pursue an organization you are doing so because it is something in your heart and not what everyone else is doing. Membership in a Black Greek Lettered Organization is for a lifetime, it’s not just a wave you hop on for your years in college. So the first thing a person needs to do is decide if this is for them. Next would be to do research on the organizations which interest you. As I said, membership is for a lifetime, so you can’t just switch from organization to organization. Make sure the decision is right for you and only you. Lastly would be to speak with the individuals who are in the desired organization, speaking with them will let them know of your interest. After that, it is on the members of the desired organization. Discretion guides each org and their process of gaining new members, I can’t speak on what organizations do because then discretion is gone. However, these processes can take place during the fall or spring semester as long as aspirants have a 2.5 GPA, for the most part, because every organization has different requirements.”
3. What is the most challenging part being of being an active member, and what do you enjoy most?
“The most challenging part about being a member is exposing ourselves on campus and making sure people come to events that we host. It is hard to make people come to our events because we know we all have busy schedules and have other things to do such as homework. Although this is hard, it is also a huge part as to why I enjoy being an active member. I was able to do great things such as plan an event where we took Denison students to an immigration march in Chicago. Although this took a lot of time it was worth it, and I do not think I would’ve been able to do something of that magnitude without the help of my fraternity brothers and the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). Something I also enjoy about my fraternity is how we try to destroy the negative stigma that comes with Greek life and fraternities. We try to show the campus that fraternities are not just about drinking alcohol, having parties and being rowdy. Fraternities are about graduating college, being professional and ready for the real world and be a leader in your community no matter where you go.”
Alpha Sigma Rho:
“Being an active member is an honor that one has worked diligently toward. We must uphold the founding pillars of our organization and acknowledge that we, as active members, represent these values and embody them. Being an active member constitutes a lot of dedication and time, but it’s always empowering. I have truly enjoyed the friendships I have made in Alpha Sigma Rho Soroity, Inc. I’ve had the privilege to meet so many empowering women from completely different backgrounds and cultural identities. We are all very unique, yet share common goals, interests, and senses of humor. We are all very genuine individuals who help each other grow and that’s what I love most about ASR.”
Alpha Phi Alpha:
“The most challenging part of being an active member is doing the work. Being a man of Alpha Phi Alpha imposes standards on you, standards which you are capable of maintaining. These standards are to be kept and elevated, anything lower would be a backward step and men of Alpha only move forward. So maintaining that standard and level of excellence is something that you have to constantly work at because there are no days off. What I enjoy the most about Alpha is that I can almost travel anywhere and find Brothers in other states, cities, even countries, with the same values as me. The larger network which exists outside of Denison’s campus is real. I’ve seen it in action, and to know that I have access to that network whenever I may need it is truly a blessing.”