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U-Wire (University Wire)

Iowa State U. Latino Fraternity Growing Rapidly

By Katie Drake

February 27, 2003
Copyright © 2003
U-Wire (University Wire). All rights reserved. 

AMES, Iowa -- The Iowa State University chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta is part of the fastest-growing Latino-focused fraternity in the country.

Miguel Ayala, vice president of expansion for Sigma Lambda Beta, Inc., said since the first chapter was founded at the University of Iowa in 1986, membership has increased from 18 to approximately 3,000 individuals.

Sigma Lambda Beta now has a total of 65 chapters in 13 states and Puerto Rico. There are also 10 colonies of the fraternity working toward chapter status .

"We're the only Latino frat that goes from California to New York," said Roy Salcedo, one of the ISU chapter's founding members. He is also a program assistant for the University Honors Program.

Salcedo said the fraternity is open to anyone and "encompasses men of nearly every nationality."

"The fraternity has grown because of the dedication of our alumni and undergraduate membership, and the fact that our organization has a vision that newly interested members can see as their own," Ayala said.

The ISU chapter was founded in 1992 and currently has 10 members. Salcedo said this is a large increase from the lack of interest in the fraternity from 1998 to 2000.

"In fall of 2000 we got some brothers' interest and started the process of membership education," Salcedo said.

One year later the chapter was awarded the "Chapter of the Year" award at the fraternity's Midwest district banquet.

Salcedo said this award is given to a "chapter or colony that fully represents what a chapter or colony should be."

At the banquet, Salcedo was also named "Brother of the Year," and Jason Smolka, senior in electrical engineering, received the "Neophyte of the Year" award for the Midwest district.

Since then, the ISU chapter has been involved in many community service events that combine socials, cultural awareness and fundraising. The fraternity recently hosted Noche de Reinas 2003, which involved all three of those aspects.

Salcedo said this was a night to celebrate the women in the chapter's lives. For this event the fraternity held a dance workshop on Merengue, incorporating history and culture, as well as a chance for participants to show off those skills. Part of the admission for this event was a canned food item.

"We collected about 120 canned goods," Salcedo said. The donations were given to Mid-Iowa Community Action.

Salcedo said these events are also a way of recruitment when prospective members come to them to ask questions about Sigma Lambda Beta.

In addition to social events, the ISU chapter has done a variety of community service activities ranging from volunteering once a month at English as a Second Language courses in Perry to a charity bowling tournament hosted with the ISU chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority.

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