From the days of Phi Beta Kappa and Delta Delta Delta, Greek life has evolved to include more than just a social foundation. Now, there are Greek letter organizations for academics, religion, even sports, but the one that caught Sapna’s attention is the fast-growing community of South Asian interest Greeks. With Fall Rush right around the corner, here is our guide to this rising phenomenon. Get the basics of who’s who in South Asian Greek life, what they are really about, and if going Greek is for you.
What does it mean to be greek? Becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority is a much different experience than joining your average college organization. “A Greek organization usually has a specific process you need to complete to earn membership and that process is mostly uniform. That’s why Greek organizations are so unique, it’s a bond only they can have. On the other hand, you have your regular student organization that anyone can join by signing their name. Nothing special about it.” says Sham Lasker of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, Inc.
In short, most Greek organizations participate in the activities that campus cultural/social/service organizations take part in, but being Greek means earning membership into an elite “family” network. The Greek bond transcends schools, states, and even countries. If you belong to the same Greek organization you are entitled to befriend and assist the other members of the organization.
Libu Chacko of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity states “Being part of such a huge network of over 400 brothers in 10 states across the United States in itself is an experience all on its own. I remember SASA Florida in 2003 when we had so many brothers at the conference. It was like a mini family reunion.”
The Who’s Who of South Asian Greek Life
Desi Greek life has found its roots all over the U.S.A. Here are the vital stats on the top contenders. Make sure to check out the individual websites for detailed information on their events, backgrounds, and expansion/pledging policies!
In November 1998, Kappa Phi Gamma Sorority, Inc. became America ‘s first women’s Greek-letter organization to promote a South Asian interest. They were established at the University of Texas at Austin on 8 principles: character, leadership, scholarship, sisterhood, service, womanhood, culture, and self. They are dedicated to self-development and building a strong system of support to nurture well rounded South Asian women.
Delta Phi Omega was established in December 1998 at the University of Houston to promote the advancement of South Asian women. They pride themselves on being the nation’s largest and fastest-growing South Asian interest sorority. They put a great emphasis on their relationships, emphasizing their five pillars, Sisterhood, Respect, Loyalty, Honesty, and Friendship. As of right now, they are located at 22 different schools.
Sigma Sigma Rho was established in December 1998 as something new and meaningful to the South Asian women at St. John’s University. This first east coast sorority was created to bring together on the objectives of Sisterhood, Society, and Remembrance. Among their many activities, they are also responsible for heading up the South Asian Greek God & Goddess competition every year. Sigma Sigma Rho is currently located at 5 different universities in the United States.
Delta Kappa Delta found its roots in 1999 as B.E.T.I.S ( Behind Every True Indian Sister), an organization of Indian women dedicated to community service, at Texas A&M University. Then in May of 2000, their university recognized Delta Kappa Delta as an Indian Service Sorority. They later revised their title to include the Indian Subcontinent. They are still known for their dedication to service activities. Since being founded they have spread to 6 different universities.
Iota Nu Delta was the first South Asian brotherhood to be established in the US, in February of 1994 on the campus of SUNY Binghamton University. They opened the doors of South Asian Greek life and are still expanding. They have 10 chapters throughout the USA.
Sigma Beta Rho was founded in 1996 at the University of Pennsylvania. They have established 24 chapters throughout the United States and have established themselves as the largest and most widespread fraternity. They stand by their objectives of Society, Brotherhood, and Remembrance.
Delta Epsilon Sigma Iota was established in December of 1997 at SUNY at Buffalo. Their five pillars are Knowledge, Spirituality, Physical Fitness, Cultural Awareness, and Productive Member of Society. They put a strong emphasis on breeding leaders.
Alpha Iota Omicron was established in October 1998 at the University of Michigan. Their 4 principles are Brotherhood, Networking, Promoting South Asian Culture, and Community Service. They are the only South Asian interest fraternity to be founded in the Midwest.
Delta Epsilon Psi was established in October of 1998 at the University of Texas at Austin. They have a service first platform and believe in making a lasting impact on the community about South Asian youth. They also believe in no shortage of fun, throwing various parties and social events. They have 6 chapters throughout the U.S.A.
Beta Kappa Gamma was established in May of 1999 at the University of Texas. The brothers pride themselves on nurturing men of excellence and achievement. They are community service and brotherhood focused. They are located at 3 different universities nationwide.
Beta Chi Theta was established in June of 1999 at UCLA as the first South Asian Fraternity on the West Coast. The main principle of Beta Chi Theta is Brotherhood, yet they also strive to promote South Asian culture, academics, and create a unified nationwide network of their members. Currently, they are located at 7 universities in North America.
Chi Psi Beta was first recognized as a service fraternity at Texas A&M University in 2000. Their main goals are to create a brotherhood among Indian men at their university and work together to do public service.
Delta Sigma Iota was founded in August of 2000 at Penn State University. They consider themselves social and service fraternity. They focus on the importance of culture, unity, and academics.
What Are They Really About? Ok, we read the great mission statements, but what is the reality of Greek life? Actually, most of them don’t stray far from their founding goals and objectives. All of the Greek organizations listed above participate in events and projects that emphasize: community service, leadership, cultural, academic, and socializing. Socializing most often means drinking and partying.
When it comes to community service, Delta Phi Omega Sorority’s philanthropy is literacy for children and outside of participation with teaching opportunities at local, urban school, member Amy Devan says, â€œ our Sorority has established a week dedicated to literacy, which we hold in February on an annual basis. During this week, each chapter within the organization conducts events to fundraise an average of $3000. This money is then donated to Pratham, an organization that works to increase education and literacy throughout India.
They are in good company, Mian Azmy of Sigma Beta Rho Fraternity, recalls, “some of the unique things I was able to experience was joining together in volunteer efforts such as March of Dimes, aiding victims of the Indian Earthquake Relief Fund, and also helping the community through work at a local homeless shelter.”
South Asian Greeks are also definitely not lacking in the social department. Between mixers with other Greeks, parties, bonding events, and retreats, Greeks have their dance cards filled. Often the culture of the individual chapter dictates to what level the Greeks are partying more than passing out donations.
The plethora of activities leads to some of the downsides of going Greek. Speaking to sisters from every sorority, we got one predominant response when it comes to negatives, time management. Sarah Kattakuzhy of Delta Phi Omega explained “Lack of time and increased responsibility can sometimes be negative aspects of the sorority.”But adds in, “However, these are things you quickly learn to deal with.” The truth remains that most people that participate in Greek life don’t have time for friends and activities outside of their chapter. There is a lot of pressure from “sisters” to prioritize chapter responsibilities over social and extracurriculars, and sometimes even academics.
The high degree of involvement also sometimes effects relationships with non-Greek friends. Radhika Inaganti of Delta Phi Omega reveals, â€œsometimes it’s hard for friends to accept the fact that you have joined a sorority, and along the way, some friendships may change, but this is not necessarily always negative.
Is Going Greek For You? Answer YES or NO to the following questions:
____ I wouldn’t mind being tested and given tasks to prove my dedication and desire to be a part of a Greek organization.
____ I am willing to pay dues (usually between $50-$250 every semester) to belong to a Greek organization.
____ I would like to belong to one organization that encompasses a wide variety of my interests, such as leadership, social events, community service, cultural, and academic support.
____ I am willing to dedicate a significant portion of my time to pledging, meetings, activities, etc for my chosen Greek organization, even if I have to sacrifice school work or outside relationships.
____ I can accept like minded individuals as my sister/brother and accept them for their faults.
If you answered YES to the majority of these questions then obviously you are a prime candidate to pledge this year. “Pass Go and Collect $200” (you’ll need it for dues); your next step is to find the right Greek organization for you.
How to Assess a Greek Organization:
Good luck prospective pledges, the Greek process is a challenging yet rewarding experience for the right candidate. You Beta work!
— NATASHA KHAN
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