To frat or not to frat; that is the question for many first-year college students. And if you’re a Latino student, then maybe the question is: Which Latino fraternity or sorority should you join?
Sure, we all saw the movie “Animal House.” And while some fraternities and sororities have earned their reputations for hard partying, the majority are not all about kegs and togas. As a matter of fact, many fraternities and sororities have tried to redefine this stereotype and have committed themselves to academic life and their local communities.
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The National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NAFLO) was established in 1998. Originally, there were two different umbrella organizations: the Concilio Nacional de Hermandades Latinas on the east coast, and NALFO which primarily consisted of fraternities and sororities on the west coast. In 2001 the two merged under the NALFO name, creating a single organization for all Latin-based fraternities and sororities.
There are at least 20 fraternities and sororities under the NALFO umbrella. But Latinos don’t need to only join Latino fraternities like Lambda Upsilon Lambda at Cornell University or Sigma Lambda Alpha at Texas Women’s University. Greek life, as fraternities and sororities are known, are not just groups that get pull together like-minded individuals into a ‘club’ to help each other out or give something back to the community. They are also places to network and make lifelong friends, because a fraternity brings people together as equals for a mutually beneficial purpose. On most college campuses, fraternities are divided into different groups: social, service, professional and honorary. Fraternities are modeled after Freemasonry, and they normally include similar rites such as initiations, symbolism, and the lodge-based organizational structure.
Fraternities and sororities offer students opportunities for leadership, and teach them the value of community service and traditions and help them develop into valuable members of society. Usually, fraternities bring like-minded students together so they can share in their hobbies and interests as well as develop those skills and interests. Beyond the traditional fraternities that usually center around professional, academic or service interests, there are also Black, Latino, Jewish, Christian and gay fraternities.
In the end, remember that the word fraternity is Latin for brotherhood. It’s about bringing like-minded people together. And therefore most, or all fraternities and sororities are a form of connecting people. If you are interested in joining a Latino fraternity, check out this NAFLO guide document to help you find the right fraternity for you.
Editor’s Note: This article is one in a series presented in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and designed to help parents prepare to send their kids off to college, brought to you by Colgate.