Before she met some of the members of Sigma Lambda Upsilon, a national ethnic sorority, Luz Burgos ’09 had always considered herself to be anti-Greek.
“I interpreted Greek as bad,” Burgos said.
Through mutual friends, Burgos was introduced to several members of Sigma Lambda Upsilon/Senoritas Latinas Unidas (SLU), and was impressed by the organization’s welcoming environment, ideals of sisterhood, and its mission to help women succeed.
“SLU is all about teaching other women to empower and support each other,” Burgos said.
Along with two other students, Helen Black and Jessica Rosario, Burgos founded a SLU chapter at the University, and in fall of 2007, after two years of hard work, Burgos was finally able to pledge as an SLU member.
SLU is the most recently established of the four ethnic sororities on campus, which also include Alpha Kappa Alpha, Zeta Phi Beta, and Delta Sigma Theta.
For their members, ethnic sororities present a very different form of Greek life compared to traditional sororities. Founded on ideals of sisterhood, female empowerment, education and community service, ethnic sororities give minority women the chance to develop deep friendships and greater self-awareness. They also give members access to an extensive network of professional women who have achieved success in fields such as law and academia.
“Ethnic Greeks are misunderstood because the processes [compared to traditional sororities] are different,” Burgos said. “There are no drugs or drinking. You learn about people.”
Burgos was also drawn to the wide-range of diversity she found in SLU.
“You don’t have to be a certain prototype to join the organization,” she said.
Most of the ethnic sororities on campus have only one or two members, and none of the organizations have housing. Adeneiki Williams ’10 is currently the only member of Zeta Phi Beta at Wesleyan. She meets off-campus with other sisters from the Hartford area, including women from University of Hartford and Central Connecticut State University. Through Zeta, she has participated in community service projects such as March of Dimes and AIDS Walk. She feels that her membership in the sorority has been integral to her personal development.
“I feel like I’ve really grown up with Zeta,” Williams said.
Kim Denson ’10, who is currently the only member of SLU, enjoys the variety of events that she participates in through her sorority, which include book drives, volunteering at a senior center and RAICES, a week of celebrating Latino heritage and culture. Denson pledged SLU her sophomore year, and said that it was the women in SLU that inspired her to join.
“SLU has allowed me to connect in a deeper way to other women,” she said.
Despite their small numbers, ethnic sorority members at Wesleyan feel that their participation has been a very rewarding experience.
“The orb that I am a part of through SLU is so much more than parties, colors or letters,” Burgos said. “You learn about respect, what you are a part of and who you really are by joining.”
This is the second in a two part series on sororities at the University.