Stung by slurs when he arrived on campus as a freshman, Yanil Escobar is spearheading an effort to have the first Hispanic fraternity chartered at Radford University.
“These organizations gave students a sense of home,” said Escobar, now a junior and a Virginia native of Nicaraguan heritage. This is particularly true in rural areas, such as Radford, he said.
In 2003, RU reported a 1.7 percent Hispanic student population to the state’s Council of Higher Education. In 2005, the percentage had grown to 2.3 percent, or nearly 60 students. The latest numbers from last fall show a 2.1 percent Hispanic population.
“You think 1 percent or half a percent is not a lot, but to our population it is,” Escobar said.
The National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations Inc., founded in 1998, oversees 23 organizations at hundreds of schools, including Virginia Tech. The groups try to focus on specific cultures but are open to all ethnicities.
NALFO was created as an umbrella organization for all Hispanic groups with Greek ties, or Greek letter organizations, said spokeswoman Roxanna Latifi.
Radford has one full-fledged Greek group devoted to Hispanic culture the sorority Chi Upsilon Sigma. It was chartered last fall after less than a year as an interest group and has four members.
To even be considered on campus, an organization must get anywhere from three to five people to show they’d be committed to a new group.
For his part, Escobar has filed a letter of intent and sought students interested in chartering Lambda Upsilon Lambda. He said he has recruited close to 20 students.
With a national Greek affiliation, students are committed to one another, adopt specific causes and people take notice, he said.
Escobar had to find at least five people willing to say they’d commit to Lambda Upsilon Lambda. For the past year, those men have been taking part in service days and education sessions in Virginia and the Washington, D.C., area.
But the biggest issue they face is making the nationally required cumulative grade point average of 2.8, Escobar said.
“This has been challenging because we want to leave a legacy.”
Information from: The Roanoke Times, http://www.roanoketimes.com
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