Hermandades on Campus: Elite Latino Secret Societies and Fraternities of the Past Give Way to Today's `Brotherhoods' and `Sisterhoods'

By Rodriguez, Roberto | Black Issues in Higher Education, December 14, 1995 | Go to article overview

Hermandades on Campus: Elite Latino Secret Societies and Fraternities of the Past Give Way to Today's `Brotherhoods' and `Sisterhoods'


Rodriguez, Roberto, Black Issues in Higher Education


Hermandades on Campus: Elite Latino Secret Societies and Fraternities of. the Past Give Way to Today's `Brotherhoods' and `Sisterhoods'

The history of Latino fraternities and sororities is very different than that of their Black counterparts -- although in terms of mission, though much younger, they are attempting to play the same role in their own communities.

In a general sense, Latinos did not form Greek-letter fraternal organizations until the 1980s. Part of the reason is that, historically, there were no Latino colleges and, also, due to de facto and de jure segregation in K-12 education, very few Latinos attended all-white colleges.

At the few universities (such as the College of the Mines -- now the University of Texas at El Paso) where Mexican Americans and Latinos did attend pre-1980s, fraternities and sororities were virtually off-limits to them unless they "passed" or hid their identity. During the politically turbulent 1960s, most Chicano/Latino students who joined campus organizations usually ended up in political groups.

Secret Societies

Juan Rodriguez, a founder and vice president of the board of directors of Sigma Lambda Beta -- represented on 32 campuses nationwide -- says that Latino fraternities actually existed in the late 1800s but their members were elite and wealthy individuals from Latin America who attended prestigious U.S. universities. They formed secret societies which evolved into alliances or loose-knit "fraternities" of Latinos who shared the same social background.

The secret societies came into being on such campuses as the University of Southwestern Louisiana, the University of Michigan, MIT and the University of California at Berkeley, says Rodriguez. Students, after returning to their home countries, became aware of one other and formed alliances. These organizations did not generally involve the local population and, accordingly, died out in the 1930s.

All but one. Phi Iota Alpha, founded in 1888 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, still exists today.

Rodriguez, who is also the interim president of the Concilio Nacional de Hermandades Latinas -- the National Council of Latino Fraternities and Sororities -- says many of the Latino fraternities were formed mostly in the Midwest and East because they felt isolated on the virtually all-white campuses located in these regions. By contrast, many Latinos joined and were welcomed in Black fraternities because they were not racially exclusive.

At a certain point, however, Latinos who were part of either the Black or traditionally white fraternities or sororities decided that they needed to create their own social and fraternal organizations to preserve their cultural identity.

Brotherhoods and Sisterhoods

In 1986, Rodriguez, along with other Latinos who had been in either Black or traditionally white fraternities, formed Sigma Lambda Beta at the University of Iowa. "Many of the Latinos felt they wanted to contribute to their own communities," says Rodriguez.

Latinos rarely feel comfortable and welcome in the traditionally white fraternities and sororities, says Rodriguez. Except on some campuses in the Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, some of the fraternities actually represent the racial/cultural composition of their campuses. Most fraternities and sororities on other campuses remain elitist and mostly white, he says.

Because they don't want to project the same image as Greek-letter organizations, many of the Latino groups do not refer to themselves as fraternities or sororities or use Greek letters. They refer to themselves as Hermandades (brotherhoods and sisterhoods). An example would be at the University of California at Riverside. There, the Latino fraternal organization is called La Union Estudiantil de La Raza (The People's Student Union). Members refer to it as "Casa de Hermanos" or House of Brothers. Each new class is referred to in an Aztec name such as CIPACTLI, which means crocodile or ECHATL, which means wind in the Nahuatl language. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hermandades on Campus: Elite Latino Secret Societies and Fraternities of the Past Give Way to Today's `Brotherhoods' and `Sisterhoods'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.