When Julissa Garcia, senior in journalism and mass communications, arrived at Iowa State in the fall of 2016, she knew she had made history.
This spring, she will be the first member of her family to graduate from college. Along the way, Garcia has made new friends, overcome adversity and has held leadership roles across various student organizations. Moving from Chicago to Ames was a big change for Garcia, but one thing helped ease that transition: her sorority.
Garcia joined Lambda Theta Alpha, the largest Latina sorority in the nation. Lambda Theta Alpha is one of nine sororities and fraternities in the Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) at Iowa State. Having an organization that was a space specifically to recognize students of color piqued Garcia’s interest.
“I joined because I was looking for a home away from home. So, a place to relate to other people who also identify as Latina or people of color,” Garcia said. “I felt like that was lacking for me at Iowa State because I come from a […] really diverse community. So, I was really looking for people to relate to, [and] I definitely found that with my sorority.”
Through her sorority, Garcia found a community that not only reminded her of the diversity she was used to at home, but also represented that diversity. In 2017, she began working in the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement, and from that position she was able to branch out and become more involved in the Multicultural Greek Council.
In the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Engagement there are four governing councils that preside over the 60 plus chapters on campus. The Multicultural Greek Council is included in those governing councils.
According to their website, “The Multicultural Greek Council (MGC) on the Iowa State University campus was created as a vehicle to improve and create dialogue and cooperation between parallel-goaled organizations. Membership includes fraternities and sororities that have an element of diversity as the foundation of their membership.”
The MGC includes nine chapters on campus, made of four fraternities and five sororities. Membership includes fraternities and sororities that have an element of diversity as a foundation to its values, including Latino/a/x, Asian/Pacific-Islander and LGBTQIA+ students. These sororities and fraternities were crafted to be a home for and benefit students of color at Iowa State.
In the fall of 2017, Garcia was elected to serve as the vice president of Community Outreach for the council. That position allowed her to step into her current role — vice president of programming. Her focus is on different philanthropy events sponsored by the council as well as on developing programming for the council. Garcia recognizes that the council’s role in campus greek life, specifically multicultural greek life, is more important now than ever before. Garcia's role proves to be important and continues to be an active force in benefiting students of colors' experiences at Iowa State.
“A lot of our organizations were created because […] there were spaces we weren’t allowed to be in, that weren’t meant for us,” Garcia said. “So, a lot of these marginalized identities created their own organizations in resilience against that.
Garcia explained why now, more than ever, it is important to have spaces for people who don’t identify with the dominant groups on campus.
“Even now — more importantly in this climate, politically and socially — it’s super important to consider the differences of other people, and acknowledge those and not combat those [differences] with hate or discrimination,” Garcia said.
The MGC is an organization on campus for people, students specifically, to fight hate and discrimination. The Multicultural Greek Council strives to unify multicultural greek-lettered organizations on the Iowa State University campus by addressing, coordinating and developing strategic action plans, unifying organizations on the council, promoting higher education, providing community services and enhancing leadership, according to their website.
In the MGC’s latest strategic plan, it states, “the mission of the Multicultural Greek Council is to foster the development of the greek community through leading, serving and advocating on behalf of its member chapters and the diverse identities that they hold dear. To this end we strive to uphold the ideals of friendship, equity and diversity.”