Not all of Greek life looks like Animal House.
Multicultural sororities and fraternities at UNR
The face of Greek life on campus is changing.
A lot of people have the stereotypical view of fraternities and sororities: white wealthy, stuck-up, irresponsible college students who can afford to pay a fee to have friends and spend their time guzzling beer.
Of course, there are reasons these stereotypes exist. One could easily cite movies like Animal House and the countless less-entertaining movies about Greek party life made afterwards.
Or, one could cite the 2002 hazing incident at the University of Nevada, Reno, in which 18-year-old Albert Santos drowned in Manzanita Lake on campus while still a pledge at the since-closed Pi Kappa Alpha Reno chapter.
Perhaps pop culture and the occasional tragedy shadow the positive.
There are 18 fraternities and sororities at UNR. According to Cairn Lindloff, Coordinator of Leadership and Greek Life Programs at the university, over $50,000 was raised for charity in 2007 by Greek organizations on campus. That’s not to mention hundreds of hours of community service, food drives, book drives and clothes drives.
Some of the most charitably active organizations, Lindloff says, are the multicultural fraternities and sororities. Of the 18 Greek chapters on campus, six of them are multicultural—three fraternities and three sororities.
“Many of their brotherhood and sisterhood events have a focus to them,” she said. “They focus quite a bit on service.”
Defining the word “multicultural” is tricky. Most officials define multicultural fraternities and sororities as organizations that historically focus on one ethnicity. Multicultural Greek organizations are open to any person, regardless of race or religion, as is legally required by federal discrimination laws.
Lindloff said most student’s who have joined a multicultural fraternity or sorority at UNR chooses one that historically focused on the student’s race.
Students stress that their organizations work toward promoting diversity and serving the community.
“We don’t have parties just for partying,” says Mayo Thompson, a graduate student and member of Phi Beta Sigma, a historically black fraternity, though one without an officially recognized chapter at UNR. “It’s more for fundraising than for party-sake.”
“For us, we’ve done things where we base our events on different cultural views,” says Alison Tanzer, a white student and former president of multicultural sorority Lamda Phi Xi. “We want our membership to be as diverse as possible at all times.”
For some students, it’s just about comfort.
“Coming to Reno, I felt really disconnected from my roots,” says David Torres, a Latino student and member of Nu Alpha Kappa. “I was trying to connect to people closer to my ethnicity.”
Kappa Alpha Psi is an African-American-based fraternity that was founded in 1911 at Indiana University. It opened at UNR in the late 1980s for a brief time and reopened officially in 1992. KAP has an eight-week pledge period for potential members. Its dues vary. Regional and national scholarships are available to members.
Lambda Psi Rho is an Asian-based fraternity founded at UNR in 2006. There was no mention of chapters at other universities on its website, ww.myspace.com/lamdapsirho. LPR holds a pledge period of nine weeks and charges members $55 per semester.
Nu Alpha Kappa is a Latino-based fraternity founded in 1988 in California and opened at UNR in 2004. The UNR chapter won an award for organizing a bone marrow drive in October 2006. NAK holds a pledge period of eight to 12 weeks. NAK lists its dues as $0.
Delta Sigma Theta, an African-American-based sorority, was founded in 1913 at Howard University and opened at UNR in 2004. DST holds a pledge period of eight to 15 weeks. The sorority’s dues vary.
Kappa Delta Chi is a Latina-based sorority founded in 1987 in Texas and opened at UNR in 2004. KDC holds a pledge period of eight weeks. Dues vary per semester, and national scholarships are available through the sorority. KDC won an award at UNR for having the highest GPA in the fall of 2005 and an award for their help instructing youth soccer leagues in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Lamda Phi Xi, a multicultural-based sorority with no emphasis on any one ethnicity, was founded in Indiana in 2004. It opened at UNR in 2005. It holds a pledge period of eight to 12 weeks and charges $200 in dues per semester. LPX won an award at UNR for being the “outstanding new club” of 2006.