UTPA’s first coed fraternity
While fraternities have brothers and sororities have sisters, UTPA carries a different type of fraternity. Delta Psi Alpha is a coed Greek organization consisting of 17 male and female students.
Delta Psi Alpha was founded Nov. 24, 1998 at Northern Illinois University. The founders wanted to be a part of an organization that embraced culture, individualism, leadership, and teamwork, as stated on the webpage. Having failed to see that in other groups on campus, they were compelled to establish a memorable fraternity experience with these qualities.
Delta Psi Alpha is currently established at nine universities across the nation, including Northern Illinois University, Texas A&M International University and UTPA. The University’s chapter of Delta Psi Alpha was founded Oct. 14, 2007 by alumni Yuridia Bazan, Maria Hinojosa, Roldan Castro, and Estefania Cara Zeigenbein.
According to current fraternity president Bianca Sanchez, the 17 active “brothers and sisters” follow the same structure and beliefs the chapter founders envisioned and they work on creating an environment for students to excel in, promoting cultural and gender diversity, and fostering a coed fraternity.
Sanchez first came across Delta Psi Alpha during Rush Week of spring 2013. The 21-year-old was captured by the familial bond the fraternity shared and has been an active sister since.
“I love being a part of Delta Psi Alpha. Not many people can say they are part of a coed fraternity or say they have ‘brothers and sisters,’” said the anthropology major. “Being a part of a coed frat, you get to experience not only brotherhood or sisterhood, but a family.”
Sanchez explained that Delta Psi Alpha currently holds the most amount of members the group has ever had. Although other Greek organizations may have more active members, Assistant Dean of Associates Lucio Lopez, who helps recruit new members and encourages current members to meet their academic goals, believes that having a smaller organization is what makes it comfortable for him. He points out the number of active members will also vary depending on how many events and activities the group is able to accomplish.
“A good amount of members in each fraternity will depend on the perspective of each fraternity or sorority,” said the 20-year-old. “In my point of view, I think 17 is a good amount of members, I’d rather have quality than quantity.”
Sanchez explained that the fraternity is involved with several community services both on and off campus, such as UTPA Bronc Round Up, an orientation that welcomes freshmen to the University, the Rio Grande Valley Food Bank, and the Cancer Advocacy Movement for Colleges and Outreach’s bone marrow drive.
Event wise, Delta Psi Alpha plans to continue hosting its annual event, Aria Day, with the hopes of making it bigger each year. Aria Day is celebrated to honor a fallen sister who was lost to the Northern Illinois University school shooting Feb. 14, 2008. Each Valentine’s Day, the group hands out chocolate roses to students as well as information about school safety. This coming Aria Day, Valentine’s Day 2015, Delta Psi Alpha plans to hold safety seminars with campus police.
Delta Psi Alpha is currently in the process of establishing a chapter at The University of Texas at Brownsville. The group, along with other Greek organizations, is working on the new Greek system for The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley while planning future events.
“The merger in no way concerns us. The chapter will still be an active organization in the new university,” Sanchez explained. “(Delta Psi Alpha) has already contacted the University of Brownville to meet policies and requirements to start recruiting this fall.”
Delta Psi Alpha brother and chapter dean Jose Garza said he is proud to be a part of something different and hopes the group continues to break the stereotype that Greek organizations are separated by gender. The rehabilitation major looks forward to expanding the fraternity to more students and other universities as well.
“Being that (Delta Psi Alpha) is the first and only coed fraternity on campus, it does give you a certain sense of pride,” said 19-year-old Garza. “This aspect of our fraternity helps break many stereotypes that come along with being Greek. It is pleasing to know I have both brothers and sisters.”
Along with Garza, fraternity sister and chapter treasurer Mayela Ruiz explained that Delta Psi Alpha is not just a fraternity, but a family that helps each other when a member is going through a difficult time.
“Through the good and the bad Delta Psi Alpha is together and never apart,” said Ruiz, a criminal justice major. “It’s difficult to explain to others why you’re in a fraternity if you’re a girl, but I love it because it’s something new.”
Sanchez admits she is excited for Delta Psi Alpha to continue its journey onto other universities. Her goals for the group are to educate individuals about coed fraternities and make their events bigger to affect more students.
“If I was not a part of this fraternity I wouldn’t have met these awesome people that I call my brothers and sisters. We all have different personalities, different senses of humor and different ways of life, but we all accept each other,” Sanchez said. “We push each other to become better individuals. I always go back to the fraternity motto, ‘United in spirit, mind and heart; Delta Psi’s together, never apart.'”
Delta Psi Alpha can be contacted by students who are interested in joining on their Facebook page, UTPA Dpsi Coed Frat.