Junior Sheila Cruz said that on her first day of college, she only counted five people of color on campus.
“I didn’t want to just be another statistic, the token half-Latina, half-African American girl,” said Cruz, Theta Delta Sigma President.
This feeling was what drew her to join Theta Delta Sigma, UVMs newest Greek life chapter. The group, which only consists of three members, believes in the advancement of social justice efforts at UVM, Cruz said.
“The mission is to bring together all backgrounds who are dedicated to promoting diversity, raising minority awareness [and] demonstrating solidarity in a unique bond of unity,” she said.
Theta Delta Sigma is a fraternity, but they are open to men, women and those that don’t identify as either. They call themselves a “society,” Cruz said.
“It’s a siblinghood,” she said. “Some of our members are gender-fluid, we wanted inclusive names. For me, it means family. It shouldn’t be about gender.”
Theta Delta Sigma arrived on campus Sept. 2015, but originated at the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2001, according to the national Theta Delta Sigma website.
Currently, UVM is one of the nine chapters in the U.S., and one of three that started in 2015, according to the site.
Cruz said she decided to help start this society at UVM because she saw other sororities doing food drives and philanthropies, but “on the topic of social justice didn’t see much happening.”
“I didn’t see a place I would exactly fit, and I wanted to bring that,” Cruz said. “I just like the idea of accepting. I want people to be accepting of me, and in that way, you must be accepting of others.”.
The “society” is not exclusive and welcomes “all colors,” Cruz said.
“You hear the word multicultural, and often think only people of color,” she said.
“We don’t want that,” she said. “Even if it’s awkward, conversations will start. We want all races to be heard.”
“I could make a rally, but not everyone can,” she said.
“What can you do to help? Let’s find what you’re good at, make it bigger, and impact the world.”
Members of UVM’s established Greek life said fraternities and sororities have warmly welcomed Theta Delta Sigma’s arrival.
“I think that whenever we gain a new organization in [the Greek life] community it is good for everyone because it offers students a unique experience as compared to the other organizations,” said junior Kelton Bogasky, president of the Pi Kappa Alpha sorority.
Sophomore Chris Sullivan, president of Delta Upsilon, said his fraternity is also excited and looks to the future.
“I don’t really know what to expect; it will all depend on how they recruit and the types of members they recruit,” Sullivan said.
Cruz said Theta Delta Sigma is looking to recruit more members.
“[We want] members who are motivated and influential and want to make an actual change,” Cruz said. “I would like to see ‘a line of 20’ when we all stand side by side as siblings,” Cruz said.