On Feb. 11, 1985, Alpha Psi Lambda was founded in Ohio State University by “thirteen noble brothers and sisters.”
Those 13 undergraduate students set the foundation for what is the nation’s first and now largest co-educational Latinx-oriented fraternity.
At Eastern, Alpha Psi Lambda got started on April 30, 2016 by 12 students.
In just four years, Alpha Psi Lambda’s presence has grown greatly on campus, building a community of brothers and sisters focused on education, leadership, cultural awareness and community service.
Alexandra Tinajero, a junior human services student, is the internal vice president of Alpha Psi Lambda.
She joined Alpha Psi Lambda because the organization values academics, culture and familia (or family) are three things that are of great importance to her.
She said she likes that the members are ready and willing to lend a helping hand to whomever may need it.
“The purpose of Alpha Psi Lambda is to bring the Latinx culture to Eastern,” she said. “We also value academics and familia. We want to bring that ‘familia’ aspect to Eastern and provide students with a home away from home.”
Luis Paniagua, a junior graphic design student, is the external vice president of Alpha Psi Lambda.
He joined because when he first started school at Eastern, he felt very homesick. The members of the fraternity made him feel at home.
Paniagua said that because Eastern is a predominantly white institution, it can be hard for people of other cultures to feel at home.
Alpha Psi Lambda is focused on providing a space where people in the Latinx community can feel at home while also teaching the Eastern community about the Latinx culture, he said.
“Here being at EIU, where there are mostly Caucasian people, you do not really see the Latinx culture out here. That is what we want to promote,” Paniagua explained. “We want to show the diversity at EIU. We want people to learn about us and (Latinx) culture itself.”
Both Tinajero and Paniagua emphasized that although Alpha Psi Lambda is a Latinx fraternity, it does not mean only people in the Latinx community can join.
“Alpha Psi Lambda is a Latinx-interest fraternity, but you do not have to be Latinx to join. That is a common misconception about us,” Paniagua said. “We actually accept everyone and we love everyone. Everyone is welcome to join.”
Alpha Psi Lambda is also active on campus, holding events for the whole community to partake in.
“We do fundraisers, study sessions and small social gatherings,” Tinajero said. “We also collaborate with other Greek life and with the Latin American Student Organization, also known as LASO, here on campus. In fact, LASO is where I first heard about Alpha Psi Lambda.”
Because of COVID-19, Alpha Psi Lambda has to adjust to working with restrictions and social distancing, so the fraternity is still figuring out what is in store for this year.
“We are still trying to figure out what we can do. We were hoping to do a bunch of in-person events when we were making plans last year,” Paniagua said. “Right now, we are just trying to see what we can do to transition into the process of collaborating with other fraternities and sororities from Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council and National Panhellenic Council.”
Despite any possible issues it may be facing, Alpha Psi Lambda is still going to do what it can to bring Latinx representation to Eastern’s campus.
“We plan to have virtual activities and virtual informational meetings through Zoom. We want to have ‘Get to Know Us’ activities, study sessions, informationals and social events. We want to have movie nights and game nights ― anything that will help us get to know potential members interested in Alpha Psi Lambda,” Tinajero said.
Kyara Morales-Rodriguez can be reached 581-2812 or [email protected]