It’s just another Saturday night at The Crust and students are eating pizza and catching up with one another. A group of young women walk in, and after a quick conversation with the manager; they have successfully converted the restaurant into a salsa party. A dance floor is cleared, and the beats of Shakira and Don Omar are pounding away on the speaker system. Everyone gets out of their seats to start dancing, and what began as just an average night out becomes a night to remember. This kind of initiative is what first brought the girls of Chicas Latinas Unidas together.
A select few came up with the idea of starting a sorority for minorities at William and Mary based on their mutual desire for a latina family. The ladies found they had a lot in common, which was something they had trouble finding originally given W&M’s small Latino percentage. CLU was established to recruit other women and begin the process of starting a new sorority. The girls bonded over their mission, I asked Kathy Tolentino (’15) why she decided to join CLU: “I wanted to join a group of women who had similar love for all things latin --e.g. food, music, and culture.” An example would be the spontaneous salsa infused dance party at The Crust. In addition, CLU sponsors Latin themed movie nights, fundraisers, and service. Similar to other sororities and fraternities, SIA is planning to give back to the Williamsburg community through community service, which Kathy refers to as: "No te olvides de tus raíces" a common phrase which means “always remember your roots.” Although they incorporate a lot of Hispanic themes into their events, CLU is non-exclusive. It’s one of the things that attracted Genesis Fuentes to the club. “CLU is different because it is a place where anyone is accepted. It doesn’t matter if you are Hispanic or not, everyone has a place in CLU. It shows the different cultures on campus.” CLU has a variety of members all from different backgrounds, and they make it a focus to be inclusive because as a minority based organization, they know the stress of being marginalized.
The young women had a lot to say about their goal of creating SIA (Sigma Iota Alpha). Chelsea Higgins (’15) is one of the many members who knows SIA will be a hit: “SIA will bring a whole new dimension of diversity into Greek life at W&M. Latin-based sororities value their culture and traditions, and we will be participating in a variety of activities that will bring cultural awareness to W&M.” Following this new trend of exploring cultures, W&M is also welcoming another Minority Sorority to campus in addition to SIA in the spring. W&M has always embraced multi-cultural organizations, with groups such as Latin American Student Organization, Chinese Student Organization, Muslim Student Association, and Hillel. However, the demand for a multicultural sorority has students determined to establish a strong base for SIA and sororities like it so that they can survive longer than a couple of years. Hopefully a multicultural sorority can become yet another tradition for William and Mary. Almendra Terrones (’15) is confident that SIA will “make history, and open an opportunity for future students to be part of something that has never been done." The girls of CLU are ready to meet the challenge head on, and they hope to inspire everyone to include a little more Latin flair into their lives.
For more information about CLU at William and Mary, visit: http://wmpeople.wm.edu/site/page/chicaslu/home
Check out their upcoming events, like the Qudoba Profit Share and raffle on November 15!