Savanna Vest ‘22
The Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. presented its founding line of eight members at their probate in the Alvarez Union Atrium at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 15, 2019. The probate was the first new member presentation for the associate members of the first Latino Greek organization for men on Davidson’s campus.
The associate members of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., also known as “the Lambdas,” introduced themselves through saluting, a presentation tradition began by the organization’s national founders.
Normally, upperclassmen members guide associate members at probates. However, since the Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. was presenting its founding line, Edward Gonzalez, who works with the UNC Charlotte Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., acted as Pledge Master at the probate.
“We do something called ‘saluting.’ It best can be described as ‘poetry in motion,’” Gonzalez said to attendees. “What they’re showing you is the passion, dedication, and discipline that they have for themselves and for the community they’re about to serve here at Davidson.”
The eight associate members wore the same attire: camouflage pants, black military boots, white long-sleeved shirts, bullet-proof vests, and ski masks. In the final moments, each founding line member individually introduced himself. Each concluded his speech by revealing the Lambda shirt under his uniform and removing his ski mask to show his face to the crowd.
Unity is one of the Lambdas’ central values, and the associate members hoped to demonstrate unity through the probate, through both the performance and their physical appearances. Richy Tovar ‘19, the President of the Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., described the unity and individuality of saluting during the presentation.
“After you unveil who you are towards the end, you give a little speech,” Tovar said. “I think that’s a moment where you actually get to be an individual. This is a brotherhood, and each line is a unit, so we want to work as one. But at that moment, when you’re giving your speech, you get to express yourself a little bit differently from your line brothers because not everyone is the same.”
“One of the ideals of our fraternity is ‘in unity, there is strength,’ and the best way for us to demonstrate unity is to all look the same,” Daniel Alvarez-Orlachia ‘21, a founding line member of the Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., said. “When we come forward and show the community what Lambda Theta Phi is about, many times it’s impossible to have similar haircuts because people have different hair textures and different hairstyles, and their hair grows at different growth rates. But shaving our heads and dressing all the same is the best way for us to demonstrate that unity.”
When saluting, the line speaks information or dialogue that they have prepared and incorporates coordinated group motion. The Lambdas saluted to introduce the chapter’s first members, communicate the national history of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. and demonstrate unity through their speech and actions. The crowd at the Lambdas’ probate cheered and encouraged the associate members as they saluted.
“I was completely out of breath,” Alvarez-Orlachia said. “I run track and field, so I know what it’s like to be out of breath. I’ve never been out of breath by something that was just talking and presenting and performing like that. It’s a really amazing feeling: the rush, the crowd, just knowing that everyone is there for you.”
The 2018-2019 school year is the first to see the founding of a Latino Greek organization for men on Davidson’s campus. Some students, like Tovar and Sebastian Flores ‘19, the Vice President of the Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., joined a Latino interest group in their first year at Davidson in order to advocate for the establishment of a Latino Greek organization for men.
Interest group members who are now senior members of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. explained it was a long process that they worked toward throughout the duration of their careers at Davidson. Tovar said the interest group had to petition the school for expansion and obtain approval from figures like President Quillen and all of PCC.
“A lot of individuals pushed us back and said, ‘Oh, there’s OLAS [the Organization of Latino American Students], right?’ We felt that this organization brings new opportunities for male students to go further, beyond what the school organizations could do… This organization allows you to connect with a lot of Brothers across not just the country, but the entire world,” Tovar said.
Allen Clay, Jr. ‘19, the President of the Davidson College Tau Omicron Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., represented his organization in the PCC voting process to approve the foundation of the Davidson College Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. on campus.
“Why would we be against them when, just 15 years ago, we were doing the same thing?” Clay said. “Looking past the fact that we love all those guys, and the fact that we want them to have an equal space, it would have been extremely hypocritical of any NPHC to be against this [their establishment on campus].”
Flores said that the formation of the Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. provided a unique sense of unity that could not be found anywhere else on campus.
“My family is Cuban, and I don’t really know what a person whose family is Mexican is going through, and yet we’re both Hispanic and Latino in the eyes of everybody else. So it [Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc.] gives us a space to find our common ground and uplift each other,” Flores said.
Members of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. agreed that one of their priorities for future years is to continue recruiting new members. For long-term goals, members hope to tighten their relations with the rest of PCC and establish themselves as a known entity on campus.
The Davidson College Associate Chapter of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc. is part of the national organization founded in 1975 by a group at Kean College. The Lambdas’ ideals are “Academic Excellence; Brotherhood; Leadership; Latino Unity; [and] Service.”
“Joining this organization for me was partly a way to reconnect with my Latin heritage, but on a greater level, it was to become part of a community and a group of men who are driven, service-minded and happy to support their community,” Dan Rafla ’20, the Social Chair for Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., said.
Tovar said that the Lambdas are looking forward to establishing service partnerships in and around Charlotte to work with high school students who come from different countries.
“By no means is the organization limited to men of Hispanic descent, and we welcome men of the college who share our values and our passions,” Rafla said. “Being a member gives me and my brothers an opportunity to create change on campus and in the surrounding community.”
The public can watch the full probate here.