Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Students at Embattled Mizzou Want Latina Sorority

Students at the University of Missouri are working to establish a Latina sorority on the same campus where mass protests about the treatment of minorities made national headlines last fall. (Flickr/nonorganical)

Latina students at the University of Missouri want a sorority to call their own.

The groundwork to establish a chapter of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority began in 2014 — long before mass protests about the treatment of racial minorities on campus made national headlines and spurred changes at Mizzou and other universities across the country last fall. But in the aftermath of heightened racial tensions, a sisterhood may be just what these students need to feel empowered. 

Senior psychology major Jessica Banuelos, who is of Mexican descent, is leading efforts to secure official sorority status for the special interest group. With 14 members, it is intentionally small to foster close relationships. According to an article in the Columbia Missourian, it would not be the first Latina sorority at Mizzou, but it would be the only one currently operating.

The Associated Press reports Banuelos chose to align with Lambda Theta Alpha because “it encompasses the values of unity, love and respect, which I identify with strongly as a Latina woman.”

Lambda Theta Alpha, the oldest Latina sorority in the United States, was established in 1975 as a support group that would cater to the needs of Latina women, providing them with a sense of belonging and helping them to achieve their highest potential, according to its website. In 2015, it was named a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education by t​​he White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. 

In November, the Mizzou students presented their case to the national sorority board and were asked to present their opinions about issues such as racism on campus, according to the Missourian.

The group is still waiting to hear whether they’ll be granted official chapter status or remain a special interest group. In the meantime, the national organization has been providing the women with time management classes on balancing the operating of a sorority with their school work, Banuelos said