New Co-Ed Frat Values Differences

“It starts from within,” says Jonathan Vo, a second-year political science major. He’s talking about growth. “We just want people to learn about themselves.”

One wouldn’t think that Vo is actually speaking with the goals of a fraternity in mind — Delta Sigma, to be exact. He is the co-rush chair of the up-and-coming coed multicultural fraternity that has been in the works for a year. The founding fathers have been planning the birth of a new kind of fraternity with what they call “deeper” goals — goals to promote self-growth, raise political awareness, and provide people with a group of individuals they can call a family.

Delta Sigma’s current group of founding fathers consists of eight people — Natalie Cebowski, Catherine Liikala, Stephen Mendez, Steve Nassar, Preston Ong, Andrew Simmons, Jonathan Vo and Fangyi Zhou. Simmons, a fourth-year history and film and media studies major recalls how the idea to start up a fraternity came about.

“Steve and I talked about the idea of starting up a frat, and the idea was always in my head […] but I never actually settled anything. So we planted the seed about starting this up. At one point we just decided ‘Hey, we’re going to do this.’”

Simmons now serves as Delta Sigma’s chairman of Logistics & Outreach, handling Delta Sigma’s interaction with on and off-campus organizations. He also handles meetings with the Multicultural Greek Council, which oversees the on-campus Asian Greek sororities and fraternities, along with other on-campus organizations. Delta Sigma is currently under review by the Multicultural Greek Council, because as Simmons puts it, they are the “first of their kind” — not only would they be the first organization under the guidance of MGC (should they be accepted as part of their board) to have only one chapter, but they would be the only coed fraternity as well.

While waiting to hear from MGC, the founding fathers have been hard at work to set their plans in motion. With various activities for their fraternity in mind, one they believe will be especially beneficial for their members are “cultural dinners.”

“We’re definitely thinking about hosting cultural dinners every quarter,” Simmons says, “We would choose a specific country and not only bring in food from that country, but even practice some of that country’s traditions or have cultural performances while we eat.”
The founding fathers plan on opening this event to the entire campus, so any student may come and be “culturally enlightened.”

But beyond the fun and games, historian Preston Ong, a fourth-year Asian American Studies major, says, “We really want to encourage not just a superficial understanding of other cultures, but also to understand the issues that may not be brought to light as much — such as the oppression of certain cultural groups by others.”

Delta Sigma’s core values are courage, responsibility, family and diversity — all of which, as the founding fathers make clear, they take very seriously.

“For us it starts with personal courage — courage within yourself, to stand up for what you believe in, to take responsibility, to face your fears,” Vo says. “It goes in an outward direction. Our members come in not knowing much, a blank slate, and learn about themselves, about other places, and come out being more mature, better people.”
The group has even structured their executive board in a non-hierarchical way to promote their “family” value. They have no president and no vice-president — rather, they have a group of chairpersons, each with their own unique duties and all sharing equal power in the dealings of the fraternity.

Even the fraternity’s letters hold a special meaning to its organizers. Delta represents change, or difference, while “sigma” means “the sum of”. Aligning with the group’s main focus on multiculturalism, their Greek letters also led to the creation of the fraternity’s motto: “The sum of our difference.”

The founding fathers are optimistic for the future of their organization, expecting to introduce it to UCI’s campus by Spring 2011.

If you are interested in becoming a founding father for this up-and-coming co-ed fraternity, contact Logistics & Outreach Chairman Andrew Simmons at asimmons@uci.edu .