|Members of Sigma Lambda Gamma go business casual for a spring Women of Distinction event. “We pride ourselves on being professional women,” says Leslie Mendoza ’11. From left: Jennifer Ramos ’11, Ana Martinez ’10, Gina Gonsalez ’11, Cindy David ’11, Mendoza, Kenya Dyer ’11, Shirley Jean-Baptiste ’11, Nancy Phean ’11 and Allison Minton ’10.
From volunteering weekly at local nonprofit agencies to co-hosting a discussion on gender relations at Dickinson, members of four new national organizations are transforming Greek life on campus.
Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Sigma Lambda Gamma and Sigma Lambda Beta share an affinity for multicultural social advocacy, and their events often blur the line between learning and leisure. They also seek to change public perceptions of fraternity and sorority life.
Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino-based fraternity, was recognized as a colony in April, and members volunteer every Tuesday at EMPOWER, a Carlisle youth organization. The group hosted two multicultural Dinner and a Movie nights. Italian Night featured Life is Beautiful, and Hispanic Night opened with Apocalypto. President Carlos Rivera ’10 notes that the evenings—complete with home-cooked meals and guest lecturers—serve to entertain and educate.
“To just lecture about culture isn’t getting you anywhere,” he says. “This is a good way to introduce culture through entertainment—food, music, movies.”
Gabriel Martinez ’08, founder and alumni advisor, says that his impetus for bringing the fraternity to Dickinson was to expand diversity among Greek organizations. He anticipates gaining recognition as a chapter this year and “keeps a close eye on the colony [to] ensure that they are being positive agents of change.”
Sigma Lambda Gamma, a Latina-based sorority, also was recognized in April as a colony and coordinated several events with Greek and non-Greek organizations on campus, including a Grey’s Anatomy Premiere Night Discussion, an African-American history exhibition and Domestic Violence Awareness Night. Members volunteer with Field of Dreams, a local program that provides English instruction to immigrants and migrant farm workers.
Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, one of the “Divine Nine” African-American organizations founded in the early 1900s, was recognized as a colony in spring 2008. The group has focused on building infrastructure and reaching out to other fraternities and sororities at Dickinson. The men recently invited the community to a GLAD (Greeks Learning to Avoid Debt) program, which featured a discussion on how to responsibly manage credit cards and loans.
Delta Sigma Theta sorority, founded at Howard University in 1913 and also among the “Divine Nine,” was chartered at Dickinson in 2007. Members volunteer weekly at EMPOWER. One recent event they were pleased to host was Defeat Diabetes Sustainably, a dinner made with fresh ingredients from the College Farm. The chapter was nominated for an Academic Excellence Award at the national sorority’s 2009 Eastern Regional Conference.
Although the groups are historically African American or Latino/Latina, members emphasize that everyone is welcome. They value service over philanthropy—though they do plenty of fundraising—and their recruitment process includes a formal application and interview. But like all Greek organizations, their focus is fellowship.
The new groups are small but potent, says Tim Poirier, associate dean of students. “They structure their activities so that social and intellectual life is integrated. And they make it fun, too.”