Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority welcomed three new members March 31. On April 7, Mu Sigma Upsilon sorority welcomed its newest member.
When their membership is measured only by the number of actual members, the Cultural Greek Council chapters at Lehigh are far smaller than the other Greek fraternity and sorority chapters. Despite lower numbers, CGC leadership believes it’s a force to be reckoned with, and that they have a large impact on Lehigh and the surrounding community.
Cultural Greek chapters are historically multicultural or minority based organizations, officially dating as far back as 1906. There are five Cultural Greek chapters on campus though one, Lambda Sigma Upsilon fraternity, does not currently have any active members at Lehigh.
The other Cultural Greek organizations under the CGC at Lehigh are Lambda Theta Alpha, Mu Sigma Upsilon, Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Gamma Rho.
Each organization under the CGC has its own rituals, ceremonies, traditions and history, though the recruitment processes for each have some similarities.
Kristen Mejia, ‘17, the president of both Lambda Theta Alpha and the CGC, said the Cultural Greek recruitment and initiation processes can differ to those of other Greek chapters at Lehigh.
One key aspect of the Cultural Greek recruitment process is the length of time between when members arrive at Lehigh and when they join a chapter. While the majority of new member classes for Panhellenic sororities and IFC fraternities consist of first-year students, many CGC members didn’t join their organizations during their first year.
“It’s more of a personal connection, you don’t rush anything,” said Austin Price, ‘17, the president of historically black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. “If someone’s not ready to do it there’s no pressure. We want to make sure it’s the right fit for you and for us.”
Mejia said she waited a year and a half to join Lambda Theta Alpha.
Another component of the Cultural Greek process is mutual selection. There is no formal recruitment period for CGC, allowing for more time to form connections and learn about the organization and its members. The individual joining has to be the right fit for the fraternity or sorority, and the fraternity or sorority has to be the right fit for the individual.
“We don’t have rush, and we don’t do bids,” said Djenne Dickens, ‘18, the vice president of Mu Sigma Upsilon. “They have to choose us, and we have to choose them to join our organization.”
Dickens believes it is in part because of cultural Greek chapters’ insistence there is no hurry to join, and because new membership has to be the right fit, that cultural Greek chapters have remained smaller than most Greek organizations at Lehigh.
Lindsay Bailey ‘17, president of Sigma Gamma Rho, said this lack of size is a fallback for the CGC.
“For us it’s about quality, not quantity,” Bailey said. “We want it to be an alignment of values. That’s something that benefits both the organization and the individual, because you’re in this for the rest of your life.”
Though cultural Greek chapters historically represent minorities as a whole or a specific minority group, there are no ethnic or cultural barriers to entry.
In the interest of total transparency, these organizations start the recruitment process with information sessions so potential new members can learn about the organization.
“We have a series of informational sessions people can go to, and after they go to those they can decide ‘Hey, this is something I want to do,’” Dickens said.
She said the next steps to the orientation process are interviews ending with their probate, or the official announcement of new members.
“We want them to have experience where they don’t feel like it’s just about being here for four years and then they get out,” Price said. “It’s kind of a lifetime commitment.”