A new club is working to eventually implement Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc. as the first independent latin sorority chapter in the nation at Appalachian State University.
The Organization of Women Looking for Sisterhood in Chi Upsilon Sigma was started by Kimberly Jacome, chapter president and sophomore communication studies major. Due to low interest in previous years, this has been the third time that someone from Appalachian has attempted to bring the chapter.
“It is a requirement to start out as a club so you learn if this organization is what you really want and you basically learn the structure of what it is to be in the sorority,” Jacome said.
The plan, Jacome said, is to keep OWLS in CUS throughout the rest of this semester, this summer and then finally bring the sorority to Appalachian by the end of fall 2015.
Meanwhile, OWLS in CUS is planning to travel to the nearest established chapters at UNC Charlotte and in Greensboro to get to know the sisters and see their impact on their campus communities.
“Chi Upsilon Sigma is a national organization and every chapter is very much connected to each other so we have a lot of support from sisters and alumna members in North Carolina,” Jacome said.
CUS was a home away from home for first generation college students, something many women can still relate to, and now has over 67 undergraduate chapters in 17 states, Jacome said.
The sorority also has a little over 1,100 members nationwide, said Tatiana Gallego, director of expansion of CUS.
Gallego is also working closely with OWLS in CUS to ensure they are setting goals in fundraising, community service and having meetings, so they can be successful in bringing the chapter to Appalachian.
Once the sorority is established, there will be a required 2.5 GPA and sorority fees could be around $500, Gallego said.
Gallego said she believes bringing the chapter to Appalachian could also help in increasing the diversity rate on campus, because it provides a different option from other sororities.
Other chapters of CUS have used a latino fraternity to get started, but at Appalachian, CUS will be the first chapter in the nation to start independently.
“For me, what sparked an interest was the coming of Alpha Gamma Delta, so I thought about starting my own,” Jacome said. “I actually thought about joining [AGD], but I just felt like I wasn’t going to fit in and I wanted to find something that I felt OK in being a part of.”
Other chapters of CUS consist of about five to seven members, but so far 20 total people have stated official interest in participating in the sorority at Appalachian, Jacome said.
“We want to be able to reach out to those people who want to get involved with it even if they don’t see themselves as latinas, they can come and be a part of it,” Jacome said. “Anyone is able to join as long as you identify by what it stands for, its mission and its goals.”
Jacome said a barrier is stereotypes, such as people thinking latinos only get accepted to college because schools are trying to raise their diversity rate or getting judged if a latino doesn’t speak english very well or has an accent.
As another barrier, many latinos and other minorities also come from low-income households, which hinders any opportunity of receiving a higher education.
Only 50 percent of students in low-income communities are expected to finish high school and only one out of seven will graduate from college, according to www.ihaveadreamfoundation.org
“I’m an undocumented student from Guatemala, so I think it’s important to support people like me and people in general, because we’re not just targeting those who started off as not speaking english but anyone who wants to be a part of it,” Jacome said.
Jacome said her main goal is to make women feel empowered.
“The beautiful thing about this organization is that it is not latina exclusive, over the past 35 years it has become a multicultural sorority,” Jacome said. “It encourages any woman that believes in Educating, Elevating and Empowering herself and her community to seek membership.”
Story: Chamian Cruz, News Reporter