Pledging a multicultural organization is hard work, says Brenda Martinez, ’15, the president of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc. It takes determination, discipline and grit.
For the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Council chapters at Lehigh, the recruitment process has already come to close. Sororities and fraternities participated in one-week and three-week long formal recruitment periods, respectively, during the last two months. However, for the five active chapters in Lehigh’s Multicultural Greek Council, recruitment is a process that goes on all year round.
These five MGC chapters serve to promote involvement in Greek life, coordinate the activities of its member chapters and enhance cultural awareness through the ideals, principles, history and traditions of its respective organizations.
Small in number, members of the MGC chapters value academics, leadership and community engagement and seek to dispel the notion that only certain creeds, ethnicities or nationalities can become members of these five organizations.
Scott Grant, ’16, a Multicultural Greek Council president and the president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., said that people are often mistaken in thinking that MGC organizations are only for the multicultural community but in reality, they are for the Lehigh community.
Martinez, ’15, agreed, saying that despite her organization’s name, it is a big misconception that only Latinos and Hispanics are eligible for membership.
“Our sisters are Indian, Caucasian, African American, Asian—we’re from all over the world,” Martinez said. “To join, you just have to be the type of woman that values political activism, academics and community outreach.”
The five chapters of the Lehigh University MGC are Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity Inc., Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Inc., Mu Sigma Upsilon Latin Sorority Inc., and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
The council consists of organizations that were historically oriented, founded or based in a specific culture. Within the MGC, the Lehigh community has organizations from several different national umbrellas, said Carter Gilbert, an assistant director for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
According to the Lehigh University Student Affairs website, this can include, but is not limited to, organizations affiliated with the National Panhellenic Council, the National Association for Latino Fraternal Organizations, National Multicultural Greek Council or the National Asian Pacific Panhellenic Association.
Gilbert said that MGC organizations are unique from the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council organizations because they are built from a cultural background with underlying values of promoting student success with that cultural background.
One of the most prominent differences between IFC, Panhel and MGC is that MGC chapters do not have a formal recruitment but rather participate in a highly individualized process of inviting potential new members to join their organization, Gilbert said.
Morgan Fletcher, ’15, the vice president of Lambda Theta Alpha, said that she and her sisters recruit throughout both semesters and emphasize creating a bond with the potential new sisters before inviting them to join.
This differs from potential members of Panhellenic sororities at Lehigh, who all go through formal recruitment the week before the spring semester begins.
“It’s really important to us to meet and connect with other women who share the same values before we can say that they’re an interest,” Martinez said.
Martinez said that she and her sisters want to know that they put their academics first, that they’re about community, becoming better leaders and empowering the universal woman.
Grant said that by the time he had joined Kappa Alpha Psi, it was a seamless transition because he was already infused in the organization and he knew what the organization stood for and what their core values were.
People often misunderstand the idea of discretion and privacy that is practiced by MGC chapters, Gilbert said. Discretion is intentional and becoming a new member of a MGC chapter is meant to be a personal experience.
New members of each MGC chapter are revealed in a public forum to signify the completion of their journey, Gilbert said.
“We practice discretion to build up anticipation and to not take away from the new member reveal,” Fletcher said.
Grant said that at times it is difficult to compete with other IFC and Panhel organizations and people don’t often see the value in joining the smaller organizations.
Many members from MGC stressed quality over quantity in terms of their recruitment processes, but Fletcher said that the smaller chapter sizes stems from something beyond funding and beyond alumni support.
“I wish we could be larger but it comes down to demographics and who we appeal to but I understand our campus climate and who goes to our school,” Fletcher said. “It has definitely improved since I’ve been a freshman and a lot more people ask about our organizations, why we step, why we stroll and why we have smaller numbers.”
Members of MGC said that the smaller size has allowed a deep sense of camaraderie across the organizations.
“We manage to find great students who work their tails off and who are excited to become members of this hardworking, close-knit community,” Grant said.