South asian fraternity gears up for year two in action

To start off the year, Beta Chi Theta held three rush events last weekend.

Andy Steinke

While the campus greek community holds camaraderie, community service and academic excellence in high regard, some chapters also focus on cultural values.

Multicultural fraternity Beta Chi Theta, which is starting its second year as a University chapter, held three rush events last weekend to raise money for Product Red, which raises money for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.

The fraternity hopes to raise $5,000 this semester, chemistry senior and chapter president Vnay Bedi said.

With help from the University, multicultural sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma and Nasha Entertainment, Beta Chi Theta held a welcome-back picnic Friday, a concert Saturday and a 5K run Sunday.

Members also sold AIDS awareness wrist bands last week.

Bedi said they were able to cover the cost of holding the events because they collaborated with other organizations.

Beta Chi Theta, which began with five members August 2006 as the only South Asian fraternity on campus, has grown to 16 members, Bedi said.

He said he hopes to add another 10 brothers this semester.

Because all the board members – including four of the co-founders – are graduating this school year, adding new members is a top priority vice president and urban development senior Aaroosh Jain said.

Jain said he used to hold a negative opinion of fraternities and didn’t want to be associated with one.

“In the beginning I wasn’t interested in joining a fraternity,” he said.

After encouragement from Bedi, he decided to join.

Though the fraternity focuses on celebrating elements of South Asian culture, the group’s members are diverse.

A majority of the members are of Indian descent, Jain said, but the fraternity also has members with Egyptian, Persian and Pakistani backgrounds. He said they also have one Caucasian member.

Beta Chi Theta has also worked with the Pakistani Student Organization and the Persian Student Organization of Minnesota, who also helped plan the picnic.

“We do a lot with these groups,” Bedi said. “We were the first ones to come up to these groups and ask them to do stuff with us.”

According to Persian Student Organization of Minnesota president and nutrition junior Golnaz Yamoutpour, Beta Chi Theta is the only greek chapter on campus they have had events with.

The two groups celebrated the Persian New Year in March and held a welcome-back picnic last September, Yamoutpour said.

Though she enjoys working with Beta Chi Theta, Yamoutpour said she has never considered joining a multicultural sorority because she is focused on working with the Persian Student Organization of Minnesota.

While the fraternity has made progress in the past year, Beta Chi Theta has had some problems related to being involved in the greek system as a whole.

“I contacted other fraternities about the picnic and almost none of them came,” Bedi said. “But I know they are busy.”

Sigma Chi President Zachary Rhodes said he feels that multicultural fraternities fit into the greek system like any other fraternity does, but that they might not be as well publicized.

“We have members that are associated with multicultural student groups,” he said, “so of course we would be willing to work with Beta Chi on an event if they contacted us.”

Bedi said he also hopes to get a house for the chapter in the future to make them more visible to others on campus.

“We just want to get more involved,” he said.