Students seek to establish co-ed Latino fraternity

| Senior News Editor

Three freshmen who are members of the Association of Latin American Students hope to establish a co-ed Latino fraternity at Washington University this fall.

Freshmen David Leon, Rachel Lopez and Nydia Monroy have been working in conjunction with the Office of Campus Life to establish a Washington University chapter of Alpha Psi Lambda, the nation’s first and largest co-ed Latino fraternity.

Alpha Psi Lambda was established at the Ohio State University in 1985 and was formally recognized as a national organization in 1992. Currently, the organization has 27 chapters and five colonies with over 2,600 members at universities including DePaul University, the University of Texas and Villanova University.

After discussing the idea with Lopez and Monroy, Leon began researching co-ed fraternities and eventually settled on Alpha Psi Lambda because of its prestige. For Monroy, co-philanthropy chair of Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), the idea to bring a co-ed fraternity to campus was sparked by the existence of Latino fraternities on other campuses.

“I’m from Chicago and there’s schools there that have it and schools in Illinois where there’s an active Latino fraternity or sorority,” Monroy said. “Imagining something like that at Wash. U. is something that very much sparked my interest.”

The freshmen created an interest form and received positive feedback from many students. The responses, according to Lopez, motivated the group to begin the formal process of establishing a chapter in February. Despite some communication issues with Campus Life, the freshmen aim to have the fraternity on campus this fall.

“I think the sooner the better…just because we know a lot of people who are sophomores right now and also want to do this. What we’re really aiming for right now is to have it established here fall semester and start accepting more people in the spring semester, like all of the [fraternities] do,” Leon said.

While the process is mostly handled by the University and Alpha Psi Lambda, the freshmen plan to continue garnering student interest in the fraternity and brainstorming ideas for programming. The majority of feedback the students have received is positive. However, some iare concerned the Latino co-ed fraternity would be competing with ALAS for membership. Leon describes ALAS and Alpha Psi Lambda as having distinct purposes.

Sophomore Isabella Christianson Galina, co-philanthropy chair of ALAS, is excited about the prospect of a Latino Greek organization but expressed concern that the community may be further fragmented by such an organization.

“ALAS seeks to connect Latinos at Wash. U. and create community, and it seems that a Latino frat would also seek to create social connections. I also fear that a Latino fraternity may segment the already small Latino community at Wash. U. beyond the divisions that already exist (namely, the Rodriguez Scholarship that accounts for many Hispanic students here),” Christianson Galina said.

Lopez emphasized a desire for the fraternity to partner with ALAS to dispel any perception of competition.

“Our goal is to partner with ALAS; so not only can we bring awareness to the group ALAS, but also bring awareness to our fraternity,” Lopez said. “If they get involved with the fraternity, we want to make sure they also get involved with ALAS.”

Senior Itzel Lopez, co-president of ALAS, is excited for the fraternity’s establishment and views the Greek organization as an additional structural support for Latinx students at the University.

“This is particularly exciting for me because of all the support that is rising from many pockets for Latinx students. [Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers], a professional [engineering] organization for Latinx students, was established this year, and now there is promise of a new frat. For a long time, ALAS has had to support Latinx students professionally, culturally and socially, which at times has been difficult. These two new groups working with ALAS will transform the Latinx student experience to be more holistic,” Lopez said.

Leon’s desire to establish a Latino Greek organization stems from his own negative experience with Greek life at Washington University.

“I didn’t accept my bid because I couldn’t relate to the people there. I didn’t have a lot in common, we came from different backgrounds: socioeconomic, racial et cetera. It was really hard for me to feel like I was a part of that,” he said. “We want to give them a chance to actually feel like they’re part of a group and they can feel comfortable.”

Monroy cited growing frustration within the Latino community as a reason why supporting Alpha Psi Lambda is so important.

“Throughout this year, there were waves of frustration within a lot of Latinos. There were moments when you felt tension and people wanting to do something,” Monroy said. “There might be concern with bringing a Latino fraternity, but it’s something we definitely want to vouch for. If there’s people willing to step up behind us … I think it’s worth giving it a shot.”

Assistant Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life David Stetter and Executive Director of Campus Life Leslie Heusted were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.