The Initiative for Representing Integrity and Sisterhood, or IRIS, a new undergraduate interest group, may become Yale’s newest sorority.
A group of interested Asian-American students formed IRIS last fall with the intention of creating an organization that would focus on sisterhood, community service and cultural awareness, said IRIS Vice President Charlin Lu ’04.
Currently in the process of becoming an official Yale undergraduate organization, IRIS will likely bid to join the national sorority Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Lu said. Alpha Kappa Delta Phi is the largest Asian-American sorority in the United States, said national president Elizabeth Shin.
IRIS President Elizabeth Mo ’04 said the group is not entirely sure if it will begin the bid process. But Lu said they are seriously considering the possibility and have taken road trips to visit Alpha Kappa Delta Phi members at other schools.
In order for IRIS to become a recognized chapter of Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, the group must send a packet of information to the other official chapters, which will then vote on the group’s entrance, Shin said.
“The chances of any group being extended a bid for a charter is 50-50,” Shin said. “A school may be well-known, but they may not be capable of having our sorority survive there.”
Shin said another group at Yale tried to become a chapter a few years ago, but failed because it had too few members.
Most of the founders of IRIS, which currently has approximately15 members, met last year in Phoenix Dance Troup, a traditional Chinese dance group affiliated with the Chinese American Students Association, Mo said. She said they came together because they all felt Yale needed an organization that addressed the issues of women and Asian-Americans.
“I felt that there was not a lot of unity among Asian-American women,” Mo said. “I thought that was important because there is a lot of discrimination. [IRIS should] show people: we do exist, we are not quiet.”
In addition to Asian-American women’s issues, IRIS also focuses on broader women’s issues and service in the New Haven community. Last Friday, some of the members taught local elementary school students about Chinese culture and the Chinese New Year. IRIS also has plans to work in a soup kitchen this weekend and to help out at the annual Connecticut Race for the Cure, a breast cancer awareness event, in April.
IRIS also functions as a social network for its members. While IRIS is open to women of all nationalities, the group’s Asian-American focus lends many of its members a common interest, Treasurer Vivian Hsu ’06 said.
“As much as it’s nice to meet people of different backgrounds, a part of you will always enjoy being with people of similar upbringing,” Hsu said. “People who understand — when you say your grandmother plays Mah Jong, or know what it feels like to be the only girl in a class full of 30 guys.”