Luncheon Highlights Importance of Multicultural Sororities

 

 

Jacqueline Serrato

The Africana and Latin American Studies (ALST) Department collaborated for the first time this year with the Women’s Studies Center Tuesday morning to host a brown bag discussion on multicultural sororities in predominantly white institutions.

The two guest speakers, sitting before a large crowd in the Women’s Studies Center lounge, shared their personal experiences with Black and Latino-based sororities in their respective universities.

Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies and Outreach Doreen Hatcher was a first-generation college student at the University of Texas, which had a 3-4 percent black population during her time as an undergraduate in the 1980’s.

Hatcher spoke of her yearning to find a student organization where she could find a connection to other students and regain the sense of family that she felt back home.

She learned of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority, which was founded in 1913 in Howard University, and forms part of the “Divine Nine” historically black Greek letter organizations.

Pledging in 2001, in her 30’s and as a single mother, she found the support she was looking for and made a “life-time commitment” to the sorority. Hatcher added that Delta Sigma Theta promoted a “constant presence about Black American culture” on campus.

Erica Vazquez, a junior at Hamilton College, expressed the tremendous culture shock that overtook her as she entered Hamilton, another primarily white university.

“I wanted to share my opinion as a Latina,” Vazquez said. She joined student organizations, but “they didn’t do enough.”

Omega Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated (OPB), bearing the motto of “Serving and Educating Through Our Diversity,” caught her interest, and she pledged in 2005.

The young women of this sorority tutor and mentor children and engage in serious community service.

“[Their] main focus is domestic violence awareness,” Vazquez said.

“It’s not just about the colors and the parties,” Hatcher said. “It’s all about brotherhood and sisterhood.”

She stressed that, unlike most sororities, the social aspect of multicultural Greek life is just a side note. The fundamental values are unity and community involvement.

Vazquez, now President of the Tau chapter of OPB, remembered participating in an informational table about OPB in Hamilton College. Students were often “amazed” because of the stereotypes of sororities often shown on television, such as hazing and house parties.

“The women of Omega Phi Beta and ethnic sororities are really working toward this goal to spread cultural awareness,” she said. “[It’s] not just about stepping and chants.”

“And definitely not about hazing. That’s unacceptable,” Hatcher said.

“You’re much more inclined to work together [after the pledging process],” Vazquez said. “The great thing about being in a sorority on a national level is that you have sisters all over the country who you can be certain will be there for you.”

“I don’t mean to dismiss the hard work of great organizations like LASO, SORT, Brothers and Sister to Sister,” Hatcher said. “This just happens to be a higher level of commitment.”

“It’s going take a lot of hard work to bring ethnic Greek life to Colgate,” she said, “But don’t be discouraged.”