Asian fraternity may come to UI


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The University of Iowa’s first Asian fraternity is now in the works, following the success of the first Asian sorority created on campus two years ago.

Several of the women from the Asian sorority, E.I.G.H.T, approached Kelly Jo Karnes, the associate director of the Office of Student Life, about creating an Asian fraternity because they had friends who were interested in joining one, she said.

“We figured the next logical step would be to see if there was any interest in starting an Asian fraternity,” Karnes said.

The university was also contacted by the fraternity Pi Alpha Phi, which is making an aggressive effort to expand its chapters into the Midwest. It has 11 chapters, two of which are now at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see if the chapters grow throughout the Big Ten in the next five years,” said Melissa Shaub, the Student Life assistant director for fraternity and sorority Life.

Six men created Pi Alpha Phi in 1929 at the University of California-Berkeley. It was first Asian-American-interest fraternity, and it emphasizes Asian awareness, according to its website.

“Although this is an Asian-interest fraternity, we want to stress that any men can join,” Karnes said. “This fraternity would be an organization for men who are interested in gaining leadership skills, interested in philanthropy, and developing a brotherhood.”

In order for the new interest group to become a chapter of Pi Alpha Phi, it must have at least 20 members in good academic standing and have an active chapter adviser, among other requirements that must be fulfilled within one year of the recognition of the group.

The Asian population at the UI increased by approximately 200 students from 2007 to 2011, and the international population has grown by around 600 students during that time. But, Karnes said, the increase was not the direct reason for the interest in developing the Asian fraternity.

“It was more of an opportunity to grow the Multicultural Greek Council on campus,” she said.

Cynthia Kosasih, the social chairwoman of E.I.G.H.T. and former president of the sorority, said the growth in her sorority was absolutely due to an increase in the international population on campus.

The sorority, which includes students from several different cultures, increased by approximately seven women last year, four of whom were international students.

“It has become a better community for people from other cultures and enriches my knowledge of these cultures,” Kosasih said.

Dustin Du, a sophomore from China who was at the informational fraternity meeting on Feb. 24, said he is excited about what the new fraternity might have to offer. Though he was one of only seven men to attend the meeting, they’ll continue to meet until they develop further plans.

“This new fraternity represents a minority in campus, and it allows me to share something that other people may not get to experience,” Du said.

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