A closer look at Asian Greek life

A closer look at Asian Greek life

Photo Credits: ALLYSON KO / AGGIE

Asian American interest fraternities, sororities speak about stereotypes, misconceptions

Asian American interest fraternities and sororities at UC Davis belong to a smaller division of Greek life, known as the Asian Sorority and Fraternity Council (ASFC). There are six organizations that belong to the council: two fraternities and four sororities. The fraternities belonging to this council are Psi Chi Omega and Sigma Kappa Rho; the sororities are Sigma Omicron Pi, Kappa Psi Epsilon, Chi Delta Theta and Alpha Kappa Delta Phi. Asian American interest fraternities and sororities are not just for people of Asian ethnicities.

“We accept everyone and to be honest, joining an organization is mostly about if you like the bro’s or the sisters of the organization, and if you feel like it’s the right organization for you and if you identify with it or not. We absolutely do not discriminate,” said Esther Lim, a third-year pharmaceutical chemistry major and the chapter president of the Epsilon chapter of Chi Delta Theta.

What separates ASFC organizations from Panhellenic, IFC and professional Greek life organizations is that ASFC promotes and nurtures a cultural connection to Asian roots.

“Asian Greek [organizations] are very culturally focused and do well to help their members and the rest of their communities to connect to their culture and heritage as Asian Americans/members of the pan-Asian diaspora,” said Isabelle Perlada, a fourth-year microbiology and Asian American studies major. Perlada also serves as the president to the ASFC.

Like other fraternities and sororities, there are stereotypes and rumors circulating the organizations in ASFC. Many of these stereotypes are centered around the rushing process and alleged hazing rituals.

“Some of the stereotypes I hear about Asian Greek are that we are very scary because our process is very difficult,” Lim said. “People think we ‘haze like crazy’ and there are some rumors that go around about how we physically harm people. And we only allow Asian people into our organizations.”

Like many Greek organizations, other stereotypes include drinking and sexual assault.

The ‘process’ that Lim mentioned is the pledge education program or the pledge process for those who are interested in the organizations to accept and attend.

“It’s a time where one learns how the organization functions and learns about our history, ideals and basics that we were built upon,” Lim said. “The reason behind a process like this is to make sure each member knows our ideals and goals but also so that they do not come into the organization blindly. It’s a way for us to teach them risk management and educate them on how the sorority runs. Because we are small and do not have hundreds of members, people hold multiple positions and one learns what each position and status entails so that they do not just take on a position or status without knowing how it works.”

It is in this process where the alleged hazing occurs in both fraternities and sororities alike. Students who rush for Asian American Greek life have reported having to endure physical tasks, including drinking amounts of alcohol and performing strenuous physical activities.

“ASFC firmly enforces the standards set by the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life (OSFL) and does not tolerate its member chapters hazing new members,” Perlada said. “Member chapters employ risk management policies that reflect this standard within its own organizations as well.”

Even with this rule in place, however, there are a number of allegations of hazing.

“It’s very difficult to combat these stereotypes or rumors because people like to believe what others tell them and it only makes it worse because these rumors instill fear in them,” Lim said. “When people do actually ask about how Asian Greek works or asks if these rumors are true, we can’t physically prove it and can only tell them that it’s not true and the only way to find out is to actually experience it for themselves. If these rumors and allegations of Asian Greek being scary and difficult are true, the Asian Greek community would not even exist at all. No one would be even a part of the Asian Greek organizations and we wouldn’t even have an Asian Sorority and Fraternity Council. This is where the cliché comes into mind about how you should never judge a book by its cover.”

The California Aggie reached out to the chapter presidents of Sigma Kappa Rho and Psi Chi Omega, but they did not respond for comments.

Much of what happens within Asian fraternities and sororities during the pledging process is kept in secrecy. Most students who were asked by their friends to describe the details of their rushing process cannot answer any of their friends’ questions. Regardless of these rumors, many students still rush every quarter.

“People who decide to go forward with joining Asian Greek really, really like the idea of us being small,” Lim said. “Because we [are] smaller, we know everyone in our [organization] on a deeper and personal level, which makes us more tight knit. You also make a lot of friends and connections with the different [organizations] apart of ASFC. The Asian fraternities have ‘lil sis’ programs where you get a ‘big bro.’ And many people from Asian sororities or non-affiliated people join as well so you get to network and make even more friends. We have our own small community where we all know each other and it’s really nice.”

Lim wants the campus to understand that Asian Greek is not scary.

“We are not intimidating people,” she said. “Talk to a bro or a sister and just get to know us first before coming to a conclusion about our community based on rumors, because that’s just all hearsay. We are just like any other fraternity or sorority part of IFC or Panhellenic. We focus a lot on sisterhood/brotherhood, our philanthropies and community service, etc. We are a very tight and small community and take a lot of pride in it. Everyone should really have an open mind to things and not be afraid.”

Written by: LINH NGUYEN — features@theaggie.org