Patterson Court Council Votes in Favor of Latino Fraternity and Latina Sorority on Campus

Caroline Roy-

A group of students have been advocating for a Latina sorority on campus; their initiative is accompanied by a similar movement for a Latino fraternity on campus. Photo by Erin Gross

A determined group of students achieved a long-awaited victory on the evening of Wednesday, November 1st, when the Patterson Court Council (PCC) voted in favor of bringing a Latino fraternity and Latina sorority to campus.

The interest group, which includes Ruben Barajas-Ruiz ‘18, Wilson Pava ‘19, Crystal Ibarra ‘19, Jalin Jackson ‘19, Richy Tovar ‘19, and Claudia Hernandez ‘20, has been working to bring Latinx Greek life to Davidson. Their planning and preparations have turned what seemed like a distant possibility into a tangible reality.

Pava says that he became interested in the movement when some of his older classmates, including Barajas-Ruiz, reached out to him. He realized that he wanted to be a part of bringing a much-needed community to Davidson’s campus.

“I hoped I would meet people I’m going to consider brothers for the rest of my life,” he said.

Hernandez also joined the effort after older members of the Latinx community asked her to help, but ended up taking on a larger leadership role in subsequent planning.

She said she became involved in order to create a space for people like her, who may not fit into one of the already-existing PCC organizations, and also to embrace diversity within the Latinx community.

“Bringing this sorority would challenge stereotypes about Latinos and what Latino looks like,” she explained.

To gain the approval of each council and committee, the interest group has had to give detailed presentations elaborating on its plans and explaining why this is an important space to have on campus. On Wednesday, the PCC voted in favor by a strong majority—a crucial step forward for the group.

Each Patterson Court organization sent one representative along with the president to vote on behalf of their respective groups. According to PCC President Emily Yates ‘18, members of the council first heard about the expansion effort last year.

“PCC prides itself on listening to student voices,” she said. “The students are really knowledgeable and feel strongly about it.”

Before the vote, Warner Hall House President Helen Webster ‘18 spoke to her eating house about the possibility of a Latinx fraternity and sorority. She voiced her support for the student organizers and enthusiasm for the future services they would provide to the Davidson community.

“It was obvious that this was a need for people on campus,” Webster explained. “The presentations made it obvious that this need hasn’t been met. We try, but we don’t always offer a place for everyone.”

Although the interest group wasn’t sure how the vote would turn out, they certainly prepared beforehand.

“It was important to be as organized as possible,” Hernandez said.

According to Barajas-Ruiz, who has been a part of the movement since the beginning, organizing wasn’t the only challenge the group faced. When former Dean of Students Tom Shandley announced his retirement last year, the group had to speed up their timeline in order to get his approval.

This group has been time-pressed for another reason, too. Seniors like Barajas-Ruiz won’t be around to see the fraternity and sorority come to campus, and keeping membership consistent becomes challenging when juniors go abroad.

“We’re not doing it for us,” said Barajas-Ruiz. “It’s for the students who will come in the future.”

He is confident that new students will be interested in continuing what he started.

“People want to be a part of an organization that uplifts Latino communities,” he explained.

Hernandez says that none of the female leaders of the movement are seniors this year and hopes that many of them will be able to witness the sorority’s first years. Still, they do not have a fixed timeline, and they face a long road ahead.

Next, the interest group will make appeals to the Committee on Campus and Religious Life (CCRL), and then to President Carol Quillen. Once they’ve been approved on all levels, they can start reaching out to different national Latino fraternities and Latina sororities to find the right match for Davidson’s community.

“Every organization has its own personality, and we don’t know which one will be on campus,” Barajas-Ruiz said.

Despite the challenging process ahead, the group is determined to bring a much-needed space to Davidson’s Latinx community, especially as that community continues to grow.

“Davidson is still stuck in a black and white world,” Pava emphasized. “The world is not black and white. There’s a lot of in-between, and we need space for that.”