Greeks to gain Latino chapter

by Andrew Donohue

The University might be adding a new combination of three greek letters to its list of fraternities.
In a quest to become the first Latino fraternity on campus, the University organization Hermanos Unidos, or “brothers united,” is seeking a colony charter from the national Latino chapter, Sigma Lambda Beta. If the colony status is gained, the group will become the only Latino fraternity in the state.
On a campus with an enrollment of about 700 Latino students, no specific fraternal system for the ethnicity is currently in place. Sigma Lambda Beta is a growing national Latino chapter, beginning in 1986 at the University of Iowa and expanding to campuses across the country.
The idea for a local chapter surfaced in fall quarter in the mind of business education freshman Juan Telles.
“What inspired me is everybody talked about it, but nobody ever did anything,” Telles said. “My goal was to bring a fraternity over here to get people together and help the community and children.”
Behind Telles’ motivation stood three other original members. The group of four soon blossomed into 12 members, with several more interested students attending meetings.
“It is an opportunity for brotherhood,” said Willie Marquez, a junior in architecture. “I want to leave the University knowing there are certain men I can count on.”
Since the organization’s inception, a strong emphasis has been placed on community service. The group is working with the Latino Learning Resource Center’s “El Puente” program, which bridges the gap to college for area high school students.
“Our number one intent is education,” Marquez said. “Number two is getting involved with the community.”
Group members stressed they do not wish to replace the learning center or La Raza Student Center, but only to work alongside them and complement each other.
The Latino organization is also working on several other programs involving mentorships in area high schools. One of these is the College Bound program, which is currently run by the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. The program will prepare prospective fraternity members for next year, when they plan on beginning a similar program.
“I’m very impressed with the group. They are a wonderful addition to the fraternity concept,” said Nancy Barcelo, associate vice president for multicultural affairs.
With the guidance of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity, Hermanos Unidos is planning “Palante,” which is slang for moving forward. The new program will assist area seventh- and eighth-graders of color who are having difficulties in school.
The Palante program will feature traits of the pre-collegiate programs that the multicultural office has been involved with in the past, forming a natural union.
“We are really exited about the services they are doing,” Barcelo said.