Multicultural Greek life groups honor culture, heritage in initiation rituals

Multicultural Greek chapters keep their initiation process a secret to everyone outside the organization.

Members of the Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council dance on Northrop Plaza at the Cultural Greek Meet & Greet on Sept. 7.

Kayla Song

Members of the Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council dance on Northrop Plaza at the Cultural Greek Meet & Greet on Sept. 7.

Kayla Song

Loud rap music and dance routines shook display tables in front of Northrop Auditorium Thursday as 15 multicultural Greek chapters promoted their organizations to potential members.

The Multicultural Greek Council and National Pan-Hellenic Council are preparing to welcome new members, but their system — kept secret from anyone outside the organization — greatly differs from the recruitment process for the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council.

New members aren’t allowed to say which sorority or fraternity they are rushing for and must attend new member classes. The classes have a workload similar to a four or five credit course at the University, according to Neda Khi, president of Sigma Psi Zeta.

After learning more about the organizations in the MGC and NPHC, potential members start the intensive, secretive process that leads to their “crossover.”

When a new member crosses over, they officially become a sister or brother and take part in a reveal ceremony, wrapping up a time-consuming “journey,” said Avery Asuncion, co-president of Sigma Lambda Gamma.

“It’s just the culture and just the norm of our organizations,” Khi said. “It’s our legacy and we want to keep our legacy…like a family tradition.”

During the ceremony, new members recite chants and mantras memorized during the initiation process. 

Members then receive jackets with their chapter’s letters and a nickname engraved on the back.

The meaning of each member’s nickname is also kept secret from those outside the multicultural Greek community.

“My nickname is very important to me, it’s ‘Counterstrike,’” Khi said. “You might not know what it is or know what it means because it’s part of our organization, but it’s really important to me.”

Nearly all multicultural Greek chapters set their own schedules for students who want to join. Their rush process typically happens later than traditional Greek chapters.

All MGC and NPHC chapters practice “stepping” and “strolling.” These dance-like movements involve stomping, clapping, swaying, and hand gestures to represent their chapter.

“We step and stroll and that’s something that is historically African-American based,” Khi said. “We really strive to focus on our culture, whether it be our individual ethnicities, cultures or heritages.”

MGC and NPHC chapters don’t have as much—or any—alumni sponsorship since the organizations are newer and have fewer members than IFC and PHC Greek organizations. 

“I’d say a lot of our organizations are younger, we don’t have as much money,” said Alex Miller, president of Beta Chi Theta.

Beta Chi Theta is the largest of the multicultural Greek organizations with 26 members. Some organizations, like Alpha Phi Alpha, have as few as three members.

“We don’t get alumni donations or sponsorships or anything because we’re so new,” Khi said. “The money isn’t here, but we still work hard for it. It’s like when my parents came here to America. We’re still working hard to make…a better living for our generations to come and our sororities and fraternities.”