Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Wednesday, July 18, 2018

’A greater sense of community’: Inside the Intercultural Greek Collective

IGC has grown from six to 70 members in two years

When the Intercultural Greek Collective, or IGC, started in 2015, it consisted of only four multicultural organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. The groups counted six total members among their ranks.

Fast forward two years, and IGC is now comprised of eight organizations with about 70 members. The collective’s presence on campus is growing exponentially, and members say that’s a testament to the sense of community it offers as well as its strong leadership.

Aneisha Robinson, a senior in the School of International Service, is the current president of IGC and is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., a historically African-American sorority. Robinson is the second president in IGC’s history, succeeding current Student Government President Taylor Dumpson.

“IGC gives a greater sense of community that I wouldn’t feel anywhere else,” Robinson said. “Even though we’re in our own individual organizations, sororities and fraternities, we’re still brothers and sisters of IGC. That’s the greater community that we are attached to.”

How IGC works

As president, Robinson works closely with senior and IGC’s vice president of marketing and programming Bianca Flores to make sure IGC runs cohesively and that every member’s voice is heard. Flores is a member of the historically Latina group, Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc.

“We’re established as a collective because we didn’t want a governing body, we didn’t want to make rules, we didn’t want to have a set legacy,” Flores said. “All the other organizations in IGC are so different, so when running IGC, it’s not just us two at the end of the day, it’s all of us.”

Just as each of the organizations within the IGC community are different from each other, their recruitment processes are different as well.

In the case of her sorority, Robinson said, recruitment is “organization-oriented,” meaning that recruits show interest through going to events and communicating with current members. “It’s very individualized,” she said.

When a multicultural sorority or fraternity is chartered on campus, the Greek organization must go through an interest group phase during which students express interest before the fraternity or sorority decides to open a chapter, Robinson said.

There are two organizations within IGC that are currently in the interest group phase of chartering: Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc., a Latino fraternity interest group, and AU², an Asian-focused sorority interest group. Kirsten Jay, a senior in the School of Communication and the president of AU², said interested members “have to come in prepared to make a commitment.”

The name of the interest group, AU², references the University’s initials and the atomic symbol of gold, to remind members to always uphold themselves to the gold standard. The group will go up for a bid in January 2018.

IGC provides ‘safe space’ to members

With IGC, Panhellenic, Interfraternity Council and professional Greek organizations available to join, determining which path to pursue can be a difficult decision. Students must choose between either an IGC organization or social organizations in IFC or Panhellenic.

Danielle Vinales, a junior in the School of Public Affairs and president of Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc., said that what makes IGC unique is that it provides a “cultural niche” and sense of community.

“Every single council provides its own spectacular experience. It’s about finding the one that matches you best,” Vinales said. “And more often than not, the cultural background and history behind it sometimes is more tuned to the people that we tend to intake.”

For Antonio Álvarez-Ramirez, senior and president of the Lambda Sigma Upsilon Latino Fraternity, Inc. interest group, IGC organizations provide a “sort of safe space from a cultural point of view” that other Greek groups don’t. He said Greek organizations outside of IGC are “active participants” in behavior which is offensive toward specific cultures. Álvarez-Ramirez said he experienced this behavior as a member of a professional fraternity.

“Not only do I personally feel more welcomed in a brotherhood of other people of color or Latino men, I feel very much unwelcomed in other organizations which actively perpetrate this type of discrimination that we’re seeing on campus,” Álvarez-Ramirez said.

The sense of community in IGC enables members to support other organizations and pursue interests, Vinales said. She added that members of various IGC organizations attended the Clean DREAM Act rally on Nov. 9 to support a new bill replacing DACA. Many of the organizations champion advocacy, protest, inclusion and diversity, Vinales said.

“When it comes to anything regarding our specific cultures and backgrounds, our organizations, you see us there supporting each other,” Vinales said. “Not just to support you but to make sure that you, specifically, are okay as a person.”

During October’s campus climate data event, where administrators released some results of a campus climate survey taken by students in spring 2017, Jay said there was no survey information included about Asian students. When her friend asked the presenters where that data was, the response was that the research had collected data from Asian students but they had chosen not to display it.

“That’s just a really clear example of how often the Asian population on AU’s campus is left out of the conversation,” Jay said. “I feel like by being a part of IGC ... our voice is able to be a lot louder and we are able to have a lot of support from this community.”

Robinson emphasized how IGC is about giving everyone an equal opportunity to express what they’re passionate about.

“IGC does a good job of allowing everybody’s voices to be heard,” Robinson said. “No one’s issue is less important or more important than anyone else’s. We’re all in this together.”

adonohue@theeagleonline.com

This article was originally published in the December 2017 print edition of The Eagle.


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