In 1968, UC Berkeley student activists Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee coined the term “Asian American.” Inspired by the Black Power Movement, they saw coalition building as a way to unite Japanese, Chinese and Filipino American students to combat oppression and build political momentum. The term was a strategically chosen label built by determined communities in support of social justice and equality. The shared history of immigration, labor exploitation and racism brought together a diverse umbrella of ethnic groups to form an undeniable presence and representation of unity in America. 

This past spring semester, sixteen RIT undergraduates came together to establish a new organization on campus to strengthen the voice of Asian American students. Lambda Phi Epsilon, the world’s largest Asian-interest fraternity, formally established at RIT on April 7, 2018. Lambda Phi Epsilon’s five core values of authenticity, courageous leadership, cultural heritage, love and wisdom are instilled in members who commit to upholding an eternal brotherhood. Lambda men strive to be the best versions of themselves. They also work to build a foundation for other rising leaders through philanthropic opportunities, social events and scholarly development. 

The chapter’s current membership is comprised of students from ten different backgrounds: African American, Bengali, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, German, Hmong, Pakistani, Polish and Russian — and there are plans underway to diversify even further. The academic interests of brothers within the chapter also vary academically, with majors ranging from Biology and Business Administration: International Business to Software Engineering and Packaging Science. While the chapter encourages the expression of individual pursuits, its collective goal is to improve and encourage campus-wide participation with the greater fraternity and sorority community to fulfill the university’s need for increased diversity and provide inclusive experiences for everyone at RIT. 

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of the term “Asian American,” the local chapter seeks to guide men on a lifelong discovery of authenticity and personal growth. Similar to the Asian American activists of the Civil Rights era, the local chapter of Lambda Phi Epsilon views collaboration among all student groups on campus as key to fostering a deep understanding of cultural appreciation, solidarity building and movement towards mutual growth. Students on campus seeking to find their noble purpose should consider exploring fraternity and sorority life as a way to enrich and add fulfillment to their college experience.

Follow our social media pages on Instagram and Facebook (@ritlambdas), where we will post updates about our Fall 2018 recruitment schedule. 

Zadrian Huang

Social Chair, RIT Lambda Phi Epsilon

Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2021