Service and solidarity: Multicultural Greek life at Yale
La Casa hosted an event promoting four multicultural Greek organizations on campus, which are focused on building community at Yale and giving back nationwide.
Pictured from left to right including when they joined the sorority: Marie Sanford Spring ‘22, Ngozi Okoli Fall ‘20, Endure McTier Spring ‘22, Saaya Sugiyama-Spearman Fall ‘20, Loren Bass-Sanford Spring ‘22, Zoë Hopson Fall ‘20, Rebecca Reid Spring ‘22, Christina Robertson Fall ‘20, Zafirat Ndancky Spring ‘22 (Courtesy of Rebecca Reid)
La Casa Cultural hosted a “Meet the Greeks” event with Yale’s multicultural fraternities and sororities on Wednesday, Nov. 10.
The event ran from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and had three fraternities — Kappa Alpha Psi, Alpha Phi Alpha and La Unidad Latina — and one sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, present. Many multicultural Greek groups focus on community service.
“Black women are the most disrespected and least valued women in our world today, Zafirat Ndancky ’23 said.“While everyone is bogging down on you and oppressing you, respect is such a huge thing. Delta Sigma Theta] is the one organization where I can count on being respected as a Black woman.”
Ayanle Nur ’23, President of the Nu Gamma chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, said that multicultural Greek organizations “do a lot more” than party. According to Nur, the Yale chapter worked at the Yale Community Kitchen for a service project organized in conjunction with La Unidad Latina. Kappa Alpha Psi also hosted reading events at three different schools in the New Haven area and passed out roses on Cross Campus.
Similarly, members of Delta Sigma Theta, a Black sorority, reinforced that their primary focus is to give back to the community. One of their upcoming events is a Thanksgiving food drive. They are collaborating with the Dwight Community Fridge in order to organize the event. The drive is accepting donations of non-perishables. All those donations, including monetary donations, go straight to the Dwight Community Fridge.
Beyond that, Delta Sigma Theta hosted college readiness panels for high school students. This event was held alongside members of the Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi fraternities.
Rebecca Reid ’23, President of the Pi Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, explained that the organization “has a commitment to addressing the symptoms of an issue as well as figuring out the root cause of it.”
She added, “I want to be part of an organization that does both.”
Despite planning multiple community service events on campus and in the New Haven area, the multicultural Greek organizations are less known than other Greek organizations on campus.
Yale is a primarily white institution. Black students only make up 6.4 percent of Yale’s student body, and students of Latin American or Hispanic origin only make up 11.2 percent of the student body.
As a result, many of these organizations are quite small. Kappa Alpha Psi has three active members in their Yale chapter, whereas Delta Sigma Theta has five, Alpha Phi Alpha has two and La Unidad Latina has eight. Given their smaller size, they often collaborate with other chapters of their organizations at other universities nearby.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic also hindered many of these organizations’ activities. Public health restrictions rendered it more difficult to host and publicize events. COVID-19 also made it difficult to keep the organizations alive, as members graduated and recruiting new ones was difficult.
“Based on what I heard from previous members, we had much more of a presence on campus [before the pandemic],” Jhon Escobar ’24, a member of La Unidad Latina, said. “Then with the pandemic … most members graduated and we didn’t have much of a class afterwards to really represent the fraternity … Right now we’re trying to bring that presence back.”
Though the organizations are small, members say there is a lot to be gained by joining them. Their members said they feel like they have a community at Yale, but also one that extends far beyond campus through the networks of different chapters across the U.S. and worldwide. Many of their members feel that their membership is for life.
Lifelong membership also translates into increased opportunities for mentorship and networking within the organization.
“There are singers and doctors and artists who are all Delta women,” Ndancky said. “Someone in the organization is already doing the type of thing you want to do and [is] willing to support you [in doing it.]”
Alpha Phi Alpha was founded in 1906 at Cornell University. Kappa Alpha Psi was founded in 1911 at Indiana University Bloomington. Delta Sigma Theta was founded in 1913 at Howard University. La Unidad Latina was founded in 1982 at Cornell University.