Greek life can be a quintessential part of the American college experience. At least for me, all I knew about American colleges was the existence of sororities and fraternities. Although I never partook in anything Greek life related, there was always a little part of me that wondered what it would've been like to rush and be part of a sorority.
As a Latina student, I know how important my community is in my everyday life, and so the idea of having a community of sisters (in my case) who not only supported each other, but also worked to help give back, was always appealing to me.
And now, thanks to the efforts of a handful of University of Massachusetts students in collaboration with the University of Connecticut, UMass has seen its first ever Latinx fraternity revived.
La Unidad Latina, or Lambda Upsilon Lambda (LUL), is a national fraternity originally incorporated on February 19, 1982 at Cornell University. It has since expanded into over 100 chapters in 16 states.
The UMass Amherst chapter was originally founded on April 12, 1998 by three hermanos (brothers), Jaime Arroyo, Merlin Calo, and Westley Pereira, with the mission of taking “a leadership role in meeting the needs of the Latino community through academic achievement, cultural awareness, community service and promotion of the Latino culture and people, as well as all underrepresented groups,” per the fraternity’s Facebook page. Lambda Upsilon Lambda went into hiatus in 2006.
Then, 10 years later, an hermano who had done his bachelor’s degree at the University of Connecticut and had been part of LUL’s UConn chapter, became a graduate student at UMass Amherst, and decided to restart recruitment. Within a year, he found a student named Christopher Reyes, who then became the revival line for the fraternity. Reyes then recruited the current fraternity president, senior operations and information management major Luis Rodriguez.
Rodriguez has continued with the legacy of LUL over these past few years, making sure that its commitment to “a proactive vision towards raising awareness about the Latino culture and history” is fulfilled.
One of the ways he has done so is to create events where topics that remain largely taboo in the Latinx community are discussed, such was an event he held last fall in conjunction with the UConn chapter, about what it’s like being a queer person of color.
“We definitely like to break barriers and talk about things that aren't necessarily talked about in the Latino community,” Rodriguez said.
The fraternity has also hosted multiple information sessions and has assisted with the creation of the first Latinx residential community at UMass Amherst, El Barrio.
On the short-term, Rodriguez hopes that LUL flourishes once again, and that new hermanos find what he has found there: a progressive and unconditional brotherhood devoted to its community. In fact, it’s this devotion to the community that Rodriguez hopes he can bring back to his neighborhood once he graduates.
“I really want to take the different ideas that I've learned through La Unidad Latina, apply it to my own life, and make sure that I'm fulfilling las metas (the goals) that we have as a fraternity to really ensure that I can give back to my community every day,” Rodriguez said.
If you’re a Latinx student and are interested in Greek Life, I encourage you to email LUL, or visit their Facebook Page. UMass Amherst also has lots of helpful information available online about Greek life on campus.