The College of Charleston has welcomed its first Latin fraternity to campus.

The CofC colony of Lambda Theta Phi held its new member presentation on Nov. 11, 2017, where it celebrated the induction of the group’s eight founding brothers. A national organization with more than 150 undergraduate and alumni groups across the country, Lambda Theta Phi was first launched at Kean College (now Kean University) in Union, New Jersey, in 1975. CofC’s colony is the second Lambda Theta Phi organization in South Carolina. Students at Clemson University established the Palmetto State’s first chapter in 2015.

Lambda Theta Phi is CofC's first Latin fraternity.

Lambda Theta Phi is CofC’s first Latin fraternity.      (Photo provided)

“I not only wanted to make history at the College with this being the first multicultural organization and the first Latino fraternity, I also wanted to build brotherhood and unity to grow diversity on campus,” says Akash Patel, president of CofC’s Lambda Theta Phi colony. “My goal is to have the number of minority students on campus at least above 19 percent, where it is now, by the time I graduate. Even if it’s a minimal increase, the smallest change is still a change.”

Patel, a junior majoring in biology, first got the idea to start a colony at the College in 2015 from a friend who had joined the fraternity as a student at Clemson. Business administration major Antonio Rojas-Rodriguez, who is now a junior, also began thinking about bringing the organization to CofC that same year at the encouragement of another Clemson student. Meanwhile, student Javier Polo Jr., a junior majoring in biology, began pondering the concept after hearing a speaker at a program for the College’s Multicultural Overnight Visit Experience who encouraged students to think about what they could bring to CofC. With the seed planted, Patel, Rojas-Rodriguez, Polo and other students began holding interest meetings before working with the College’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life to formally begin the process of creating a Lambda Theta Phi colony at the College.

The result is a unique organization that brings together a diverse mix of young men with ethnicities that span the globe including Mexican, Indian, Jordanian, Colombian, Dominican, Brazilian and African American.

CofC's colony of Lambda Theta Phi includes members with a diverse range of ethnicities.

CofC’s colony of Lambda Theta Phi includes members with a diverse range of ethnicities.                               (Photo by Amanda Kerr)

“We want to accept anyone and everyone,” says Omar Valencia, a senior triple majoring in math, music and education, noting that many of the brothers have experienced discrimination in their lives and want to be part of an organization which stands in opposition to that. “It’s something that we don’t want anyone else to feel whatsoever. If you want to join our organization of brothers in order to unite yourself to something bigger to improve yourself or to help out in the community, then that’s all we’re really looking for.”

The brothers also hope to create more visibility for multicultural students, particularly those of Latin descent.

“I think we all wanted to use this organization as a vehicle whether for personal growth, whether it’s for professional development or just to form a brotherhood,” says Rojas-Rodriguez. “If anything, new (Latino and multicultural) students that come in have something to relate to.”

In the coming semester, the fraternity plans to bring attention to social justice issues for immigrant students, get involved with community service projects and hold fundraisers that celebrate the brothers’ varied cultures (be on the lookout for some tasty Elote – AKA Mexican street corn – on Cougar Mall).

“When you add culture to a campus it adds a zing to the community,” Patel says.

Featured Photo: Lambda Theta Phi’s new member ceremony for the CofC colony was held on Nov. 11, 2017.