After a more than 30-year absence, Phi Iota Alpha, the nation's oldest Latino-based fraternity, has returned to LSU's campus. The first members completed the recruitment process in the spring of 2010 and LSU was once again granted colony status. This fall, LSU's Phi Iota Alpha colony is participating in Interfraternity Council Recruitment, becoming the first colony in the nation to participate in a formalized recruitment process.
Fraternidad: Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Re-established at LSU
Simón Bolívar. José de San Martín. Bernardo O'Higgins. Benito Juárez. José Martí.
These men represent five of the most influential figures in the history of Latin America, as each fought to end European colonization and establish independent Latin American nations. They also represent the five pillars of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, the oldest existing Latino-based fraternity, which promotes Pan-American development through scholarship, cultural consciousness and social responsibility.
After an absence of more than 30 years from campus, Phi Iota Alpha has been re-established at LSU, with the first members of the new LSU colony completing the recruitment process at the end of the spring 2010 semester.
"Re-establishing Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity has been the icing on the cake to my experience here at LSU!" said Marlon Boutin, vice president of the LSU colony of Phi Iota Alpha. "We are a diverse group of men working together to spread the values and lessons of Latino culture. We are here, ready to educate and add a Latin awareness to this campus."
Beginning a few years ago, a group of men from the LSU Hispanic Student Cultural Society wanted to organize into a fraternity. After being challenged by the Office of Multicultural Affairs to find a national fraternity that held their beliefs and core values, they discovered Phi Iota Alpha. In reading more about the fraternity, they were excited to learn its historical connection to LSU and began looking into ways to re-establish a colony at the university.
Coincidentally, at the same time, the national Phi Iota Alpha organization contacted LSU Greek Life about trying to re-establish a colony at LSU, but did not know how to contact students who may be interested in joining the fraternity. Once Multicultural Affairs and Greek Life discovered that they were both hoping to re-establish a colony of Phi Iota Alpha at LSU, the plan came together. After working with Campus Life to establish the group as a student organization – the FIAT Club – the members went through initiation and were granted official colony status.
"I am delighted to have successfully re-established Phi Iota Alpha at LSU," said Chaunda Allen, director of Multicultural Affairs. "There were many dedicated people who worked diligently to make this a reality. The students are very excited to have another medium through which to cultivate their leadership development and our growing diversity."
In 1931, Phi Lambda Fraternity, a northern-based organization, and Sigma Iota Fraternity, which was southern-based, united under the same ideals and principles to form Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. With articles of incorporation filed in Louisiana that year, Phi Iota Alpha became the first Latino fraternity at LSU, and held the distinction of being the Alpha chapter for the new national organization.
"From a national perspective, being back at LSU means reconnecting with our fraternal roots," said Francisco Lugo, executive director of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity. "It has been 35 years since we have had an active chapter at LSU and we are excited to continue the legacy, which was first started by La Sociedad Hispano-Americana in 1904. It also symbolizes our commitment to once again being here to serve the needs of the LSU community."
With a mission to develop leaders and create innovative ways to unite the Latino community, the fraternity was a strong and thriving entity at LSU for many years. However, a decrease in enrollment of Latino students in the 1970s led to dwindling membership and forced the organization to become inactive.
The Phi Iota Alpha colony at LSU boasts many notable alumni including Carlos Roberto Flores Facussé, the president of Honduras from 1997-2001 who earned two bachelor's degrees from the university in the early 1970s and was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1995, and Eric Arturo Delvalle, the president of Panama from 1985-88 who attended LSU from in the mid-1950s.
"It feels great to have made history on LSU's campus," said Daniel Toro Jr., president of the LSU colony. "Looking back to fall 2008, when the process of re-establishing Phi Iota Alpha began, I have grown so much as a person."
In the last 12 years, the Hispanic population at LSU has almost doubled, from fewer than 700 in 1998 to more than 1,200 in 2009. Phi Iota Alpha is part of the university's ongoing effort to increase outreach and campus life opportunities for LSU's growing Hispanic student population.
"There is a relevance and pride that Phi Iota Alpha has been reestablished at LSU," said Katrice Albert, vice provost for Equity, Diversity & Community Outreach. "With the historical significance of the Alpha chapter of the organization being founded and chartered at LSU more than seven decades ago and a contemporary focus on recruiting and retaining outstanding Hispanic students, we should all be very delighted of their renewal. Phi Iota Alpha brings a shared interest of cultural vitality, philanthropy and civic engagement. It is just one of the many ways that Hispanic students can connect with one another on campus."
This fall, the LSU colony is participating in Interfraternity Council Recruitment, making it the first in the history of the organization to participate in any formalized campus recruitment process. The LSU colony's participation will serve as a test model for all of the organization's chapters across the country.
"Phi Iota Alpha provides an additional opportunity for students to find a home within the Greek community," said Jonathan Sanders, associate director of Greek Life. "With Phi Iota Alpha being the first Latino-based fraternity at LSU, this gives an opportunity for men to find a brotherhood that is rooted in the Latino culture."
In addition to Phi Iota Alpha, the Office of Multicultural Affairs has worked with students and other departments, including Campus Life, to create the Hispanic Student Cultural Society and the Interested Ladies of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, a multicultural organization for women.
For more information on Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity at LSU, please contact Chaunda Allen, director of Multicultural Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Jonathan Sanders, associate director of Greek Life, at email@example.com.
Melissa Foley | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations