Two Asian groups seek recognition among Greeks

Sarah Warning

The proposed multicultural Greek council could open doors for a group not traditionally affiliated with Greek activities: Asian students.

Two culturally based Asian groups – sorority interest group NUfaith and fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon – have been working to establish a place on campus.

Members of the two groups are applying to the multicultural Greek council, which they said could help give them the resources they need to attract new members, further their causes and increase their status.

Alice Lin, president of NUfaith, said the council would better serve the special needs of culturally based Greek organizations.

“For our group, it’d be hard to apply to (Panhellenic Association),” Lin said. “With the new council, it would be easier to gain membership, and it’s more geared toward our needs.”

Lin said NUfaith has faced challenges in their attempt to turn the interest group into an official chapter of Kappa Phi Lambda sorority. The group currently is preparing to give a presentation to the sorority’s national headquarters in early June.

The 15 members of NUfaith hope to show there is enough interest among Asian women to gain permission to become a colony.

“This is something new,” Lin said. “It’s our own project.”

But Lin said there wasn’t a lot of interest when the group began planning to bring a chapter of Kappa Phi Lambda to NU.

“Some thought (Greek membership) wasn’t for them, but a cultural sorority is very different,” Lin said. “It’s a smaller group, and you get to know people much better. The activities are different – we are interested in Asian interests.”

Lin said that when prospective members get to know her group better, they realize it’s about more than “just going Greek”.

Brody Martin, president of Lambda fraternity, agreed that although not many Asians have an interest in going Greek, the organizations that already exist help foster ties within the Asian community.

“We don’t include just one group of Asians,” said Dennis Chen, former Lambda Phi Epsilon president and a Weinberg senior. “We have Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino and other groups in our fraternity.”

Martin said joining a Greek organization doesn’t always fit with the ideals and values Asian parents instill in their children.

“A lot (of Asians) grow up with Christian ideals that don’t necessarily go with the image of drunken frats they’re brought up with,” Martin said. “There’s a stigma of being in a frat that a lot them don’t want to be associated with.”

Due to these perceptions, Lambda Phi Epsilon has had to appeal to Asians.

“Our number one purpose is academics,” he said. “Many Asians are brought up to focus, focus, focus on academics. We don’t throw a lot of parties, and when we’re recruiting we tell the guys, ‘You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to do anything.’ That helps a lot.”

Martin said other culturally based Greek organizations face similar challenges in dispelling traditional fraternity stereotypes. The multicultural Greek council could assist in making Asians feel more comfortable joining the Greek community, he said.

Lin said the interests of a sorority like Kappa Phi Lambda, which would comprise about 50 members at most, are much different from Panhellenic sororities whose pledge classes alone could equal or exceed that size.

Leaders agree that the new council would help Asian groups gain the louder voice they need in order to achieve their goals.

“We wouldn’t have as strong a voice (in Panhel) because we’re not as big, but everyone should have a place to have a strong voice,” Lin said.