By Alex Eng-Nguyen
For Unwind magazine
If you attend the University of Maryland, it won’t be hard to recognize that Greek life is a prominent part of campus life. Students are drawn to Greek life for its welcoming message of unity, and with dozens of chapters at this university, they can easily find their niche, as seen with many of the students associated with multicultural Greek life on campus.
The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) encompasses nine chapters of sororities and fraternities that are culturally-based, but not culturally exclusive. They promote core values that include unification, cultural awareness and philanthropy.
Phi Delta Sigma, Inc., an Asian-interest fraternity, has approximately 30 actives in its Alpha chapter at the University of Maryland. Vardhan Mehan, a freshman mathematics major and member of the fraternity, said that the concept of brotherhood was what appealed to him during the rushing process.
“Brotherhood was a very important aspect of the fraternity and [I] wanted to be a part of that,” said Mehan. “I think the small size of the fraternity allows for brothers to be very close to each other, allowing for a heightened sense of brotherhood, making it unique from other large fraternities.”
Mehan added that his interest in the fraternity’s philanthropic nature as well as their awareness of mental health was an attractive component. Phi Delta Sigma has several philanthropic events, such as Spotlight, a dance competition event that raises money for the National Alliance on Mental Health. The multicultural element of the fraternity has had a large impact on expanding Mehan cultural knowledge.
“I’ve learned a lot about different cultures and being around so many different people has given me a greater appreciation for things I used to take for granted,” said Mehan.
Heather Chen is a sophomore information systems and finance major, and a sister in the colony chapter of alpha Kappa Delta Phi Sorority, Inc., an Asian-interest sorority. alpha Kappa Delta Phi is the largest Asian-American interest sorority in North America. Chen accredits her interest in the sorority to the “welcoming atmosphere” of the Multicultural Greek Council. Being in a sorority that is associated with the Council allows her to be more involved and aware of other organizations’ situations.
“We discuss chapter highs and lows and strategies to improve our chapter,” Chen said. “I wouldn’t say that there are any disadvantages, but a difficulty is getting everyone in the community to be involved.”
As for philanthropy, alpha Kappa Delta Phi does plenty of work with breast cancer awareness. In October, they have multiple events to raise awareness, as well as a step and stroll competition involving different organizations within the Multicultural Greek Council.
“This event not only brings the MGC community together in an engaging and encouraging way, but also creatively promotes breast cancer awareness,” said Chen.
Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. is one of the Latino-based sororities on campus, with 20 sisters presently in the university’s Upsilon chapter. Britney Sagastizado, a senior communication major and president of the Multicultural Greek Council, stated that the inclusivity and welcoming atmosphere of the sorority was what drew her to the sorority.
“I think what sold it was the fact that I felt like I found home on campus,” Sagastizado said.
Jessica De Mouy, a junior sociology major and current president of Lambda Theta Alpha, joined for similar reasons.
“The fact that they genuinely cared about me as a person meant a lot… [I] loved that they helped develop leaders, are involved in the Latino community, and you can create meaningful bonds with a group of women,” she said.
Her duties as president involve acting as a representative for the university’s chapter, uniting sisters within that chapter and organizing programs and events. The diverse chapters and councils within this university’s Greek life are similar because they share the same core principles and values.
However, in regard to what sets the sorority apart from others, De Mouy said, “As a cultural Greek organization, our programming is tailored to and supports the black and brown community.”
Lambda Theta Alpha annually holds a number of events, such as Mr. Burgundy and Grey, a philanthropic pageant that raises funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, while also awarding a scholarship to the winner of the pageant. In the fall and spring, they will host a Latino Style Dinner and a Sisterhood Dinner, respectively, with intentions of uniting the campus community.
In all, De Mouy said that being in the sorority have had a positive effect. “I have gotten in touch with my Colombian heritage more, have gotten to know women who I can foresee being close to even after I graduate, [and] gained professional skills to bring with me in my career,” she said.