What it means to be a part of multicultural Greek life

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Greek life at Boise State is small compared to other colleges, however, it is evolving to include students with diverse cultural backgrounds and form collective identities to represent their needs. While there are few multicultural Greek life organizations at Boise State, they hope to gain new membership as population rapidly expands on campus.

Maritza Sanchez, vice president of Lambda Theta Alpha (LTA), describes the unique challenges small sororities have when it comes to recruiting new members. According to Sanchez, there is simply more curb appeal for a larger sorority because they already have a foundation to start on.

“I think we’re smaller because Boise State just isn’t as diverse, and a lot of people like traditional Greek life,” Sanchez said. “There’s three of us active. It’s three girls versus 100 girls recruiting.”

On top of having such limited numbers, multicultural Greek life has been given a bad name for not falling under what traditional fraternities and sororities stand for. Juan Leon, president of Sigma Lambda Beta (SLB), recognizes that multicultural Greek life isn’t the best fit for everyone, but there are still benefits to being a part of a small fraternity.

“I think that people predominantly are going to choose more traditional fraternities because of the size of them. I think it’s good that we’re small because it gives us more of that opportunity to meet all our members and actually get to know them at a personal level,” Leon said.  “I think I found myself in multicultural because I wanted to get more in touch with my multicultural roots because I never really had that sense of culture when I was growing up. I really wanted to connect with people that had that background like me.”

Sergio Calderon, treasurer of SLB emphasizes that multicultural fraternities do not necessarily represent just one group.

“People view us as a Hispanic fraternity, which is the least of what we are. There’s no fraternity that is more diverse than SLB,” Calderon said.

There’s a false narrative that multicultural Greek chapters only cater to specific cultures, and both LTA and SLB  clarified that they are more than willing to accept people of all backgrounds, as well as work with traditional chapters towards common goals.

“We want people to know that just because we’re multicultural doesn’t mean we aren’t open to collaborate with traditional Greek life,” Sanchez said. “I think there’s a bad perception about being multicultural and why we aren’t traditional. They may think we don’t want anything to do with them, but it’s hard when they try to reach out to us sometimes and since we are so small it’s hard to do.”

Sergio Sarmiento, a first year member of SLB mentioned that in a multicultural fraternity, he was able to interact with other students in groups that the university often doesn’t showcase.

“It’s just interesting getting to meet people that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to meet. The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) and people that are a part of that are successful because they have a support system, for example. I wanted to be more invested in the groups like that around me,” Sarmiento said.

On a minimally diverse campus, there aren’t always many options for students who are looking to connect in a background specifically fueled by culture. Students ought to feel safe in whatever environment or people they surround themselves with.

“I just felt that there are certain groups you interact with and feel welcome, and you connect with because there’s similarities. Culture is important to me, and because there isn’t a lot diversity on campus, I felt like it’s a safe place for me,” Sanchez said.

Students of all backgrounds are highly encouraged to join any form of Greek life, whether it be traditional or multicultural, but to keep in mind that there are opportunities in both. Greek life stereotypes still run rampant, but if you’re looking for something different, according to Leon, you can find that in a multicultural chapter.

“I decided to be a part of a multicultural because of that support system, and that was the biggest reason that drew me into it, and that’s what I want to show to other people,” Leon said.

 

Correction made on April 16, 2019 at 10:40am: A previous version of this article cited the fraternity of Sigma Lambda Beta as “Lambda Sigma Eta”. The name has since been correctly written.

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