Multicultural Greek organizations celebrate milestones at WSU
Department: Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life
In the winter of 1996, several Latina women gathered to discuss a sisterhood that would fulfill the aspirations of Latina women. These women saw that the WSU community lacked in the resources available for minority students, especially Latinas. Most of the organizations on campus at that time for Latino/as were male-driven or were very political. These women sought a new organization that would bring forth their values of honesty, integrity, scholarship and unity. After hard work, perseverance, and determination, the Delta Chapter of Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority, Inc. was officially chartered on April 24, 1998, at Washington State University by five Founders and four Charters, otherwise known as the mothers. Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority, Inc. was the first established Latina-founded sorority at WSU, paving the way for scores of other multicultural Greek organizations to flourish.
Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority, Inc. will host celebratory 20-year anniversary activities on April 22, 2018, on the WSU Pullman campus. GAO member Rocio Bahena is excited to see old friends and meet new sisters at the reunion. “By joining this sorority I wanted to surround myself with professional and powerful women and that’s exactly what I did,” she said.
Over the past twenty plus years, WSU’s Multicultural Greek Community has grown to become one of the largest communities in the country, with other 300 current members. Beginning with limited university support, the community began with modest intentions, a space where like-minded students of color could come together, socialize and support one another on a campus that was not always welcoming for all students of color. Historically, multicultural Greek organizations were founded to provide spaces for students of color to be themselves, assist with retention and graduation efforts, and activate around social justice issues of the day.
The first few organizations to begin at WSU were founded locally as other national organizations were unwilling to come to Pullman. The Multicultural Greek Community officially started with the founding of Omega Phi Omega Fraternity, Inc., a Filipino fraternity and La Hermandad de O eMe Te, an Aztec-based brotherhood. Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. was the first national multicultural Greek organization to charter at WSU in the fall of 1997, followed shortly by Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority, Inc. in the spring of 1998. The Multicultural Greek Community currently consists of 15 organizations, including two interest groups, all who have a historical identity-based connection, either Latina/o, Black, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, or Multicultural.
It was not always easy for these trailblazers. The founders of these organizations ran into hostile environments from their peers in MEChA and Mujeres Unidas, who did not understand why they would need to create an exclusive organization. Facing similar taunts, the men and women founders of these organizations realized the benefit of joining a Greek organization and sought to provide their fellow students with these spaces. After years of working side by side, these organizations all work together for the empowerment of the student of color community here at WSU.
Multicultural Greek organizations at WSU have played a substantial role in the recruitment, retention and graduation of students of color, especially through the support and involvement with the student-led conferences VIBES, SHAPING, and CASHE. Members of these organizations have presented at high schools about the benefits of attending WSU, ensuring that students can see someone like themselves attending a postsecondary institution. Additionally, multicultural Greek organizations have played a role in the overall fabric of the institution through their community service, scholarship and leadership. Members of the community consistently sit on ASWSU, and one has even served as the student representative on the WSU Board of Regents.
In addition to Gamma Alpha Omega Sorority, Inc., other multicultural Greek organizations have reached milestones at WSU. Omega Delta Phi Fraternity, Inc. celebrated its 20-year anniversary last October.
Just a few weeks ago, Alpha Nu Multicultural Sorority, Inc. celebrated its 10-year anniversary followed by the annual ANuversary Dance, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.