Julian Nieves, a junior finance major, joined the IOTA chapter of the Latin fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi, in the fall of 2021. He was immediately elected the vice president’s apprentice, which meant he had the role, but was still learning about the responsibilities. This year, he’s the president of the chapter.
Nieves’ father became a brother in 1992 when he attended Rider. His father never pressured him into joining, but Nieves constantly heard stories about the fraternity because he grew up with his dad’s brothers coming over often.
When Nieves joined, Lambda Theta Phi was in the midst of reshaping their identity into who they are today, which led them to win “Chapter of the Year”’ last semester over 14 other fraternities and sororities.
“We have a lot of members that are truly about brotherhood and community service and that’s what we pride ourselves on…doing a lot of service and helping people,” said Nieves.
The fraternity’s national philanthropy includes working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and visiting different high schools to help prepare students for college and “empower the Latin male through scholarship, brotherhood, opportunity and protection of identity and equality,” according to Lambda Theta Phi’s national website.
The IOTA chapter’s philanthropy partner was recently switched over to One Simple Wish, an organization that “grants wishes” to children in need. The one prior was located in Vineland, New Jersey, about 77 miles away, and the brothers wanted something more local, according to Kristopher Aponte, a senior sports media major.
The chapter hasn’t worked with them yet, but they have made multiple $400 donations and are working to start volunteering.
“It’s fairly new so we’re still putting the pieces together as we go,” said Aponte.
During the month of September, the chapter partnered with community service organizations, including Meals on Wheels, and collected clothes for a clothes drive with The College of New Jersey’s chapter of Lambda Theta Phi. They also partnered with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen to volunteer, and donated 100 ziploc bags filled with plastic cutlery and napkins.
“We have individuals who are dedicated to selfless service,” said Nieves. “At the end of the day, all of our members are there for the community and the betterment of society as a whole.”
While the first half of Hispanic Heritage month, that took place from Sep. 15 – Oct. 15 was service-centered, the second half is filled with programs to celebrate and encourage hispanic heritage.
While Nieves didn’t grow up celebrating his culture much because he grew up in a predominantly white town, Andrew Shumny, a sophomore business administration major, was heavily involved with hispanic culture. He grew up surrounded by Cuban and Peruvian traditions.
“I’m Latino, but I don’t look Latino because I’m white,” said Shumny. “I’m Cuban and Peruvian so I just always identified as white, rather than Hispanic.”
Last week, the fraternity held an event every day to celebrate the month and recruit members. They partnered with Global Social Studies Society to celebrate Dia de los Muertos, hosted a hispanic dancing night, videoed an Instagram Live to teach viewers how to cook hispanic food and ended the week at “Meet the Greeks” on the 14th, showing off their new salute.
On Oct. 29, the chapter will unveil the “Fallen Brother Project” to honor two deceased brothers. The area originally paid tribute to them, but the chapter wanted to renovate it with a new bench, plaques and flower beds. They raised $6,000 with a total of 14 donations in order to purchase the needed equipment. Each plaque will have the name of one of the two brothers as well as the fraternity’s letters.
Right now, the fraternity is raising $25,000 for a permanent endowed scholarship through Rider for anyone that joins that fraternity. The total amount will be kept by Rider and distributed each semester toward members’ tuition.
Donations can be made on the Rider University website.