New fraternity shines in greek system

It’s 1 a.m. and most of the people are still partying except for a few guys passed out on the floor and the guy who’s puking on the stairs. It’s early Sunday morning and no one has really begun to think about homework yet — that’s for tomorrow while recovering from a hangover. This is the typical greek community stereotype fraternities and sororities are trying to combat. Finally, the University can boast of an organization that really strives to disprove the misconceptions.
Juan Telles, a University alumnus, first conceived of a Sigma Lambda Beta chapter on campus in November 1997. The fraternity became a colony in April 1998 and hopes to become an official charter by 2000. The group has come a long way since it started with four original founding members. There are currently 12 members and 11 prospective members that represent diverse racial backgrounds that are not normally associated with the greek system. The fraternity’s members include African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos. The road to respectability for Sigma Lambda Beta has not been easy, though.
There have been many failed attempts to form a multicultural fraternity on campus in the past, causing officials to doubt the sincerity of these students. The Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity values persistence and hard work to overcome adversity. Telles set the precedent for this from the beginning. Luis Gonzalez, a member of Sigma Lambda Beta said, “establishing yourself is difficult to do especially with doubts from many people, but we have proven them all wrong.” The adversity this fraternity faced in order to establish itself has reenforced the internal bonds of brotherhood.
Sigma Lambda Beta is primarily an academic fraternity that focuses less on social activities. Their cumulative grade point average is 3.3, compared to a 2.94 University average and an even slightly lower average among the greek community as a whole. If members’ gpas drop below the fraternity minimum, they are put on academic probation. To help members maintain their high gpas, the scholarship chair plans mandatory study nights every week.
The fraternity also tries to stay in close contact with the community. They go to town meetings and offer input about community issues. The fraternity’s primary community service project is tutoring students from the Minneapolis area once a week at the Lori Bethel Center. In addition, many members live up to the ideals of the fraternity by actively performing community service on their own time. For example, Gonzalez tutors middle school students from the St. Paul area every week. On campus they actively support multicultural groups such as the Latino, African-American and Asian-American cultural centers.
Sigma Lambda Beta’s goal is not to put itself above other fraternities on campus. Rather, its members hope to set an example which defies stereotypes and creates a better image for all greek organizations. This fraternity is a much needed resource on campus because it creates another level of support for culturally diverse students with high goals.