The Cal Poly Latino fraternity, Lambda Theta Phi, got a surprise during a banquet they hosted this past Saturday when it was announced they had been awarded 2005-06 California Sector II (Northern California) Chapter of the Year.

“At the end of every quarter we’re required to turn in a packet that pretty much outlines everything we’ve done, including community service, GPA, fundraising, stuff like that,” said fraternity Vice President Carlos Hurtado, who was also honored as the 2005-06 California Sector II Brother of the Year.

“There is a wide variety of reasons (the Cal Poly chapter) was selected,” said Mario Alfaro, vice president for the sector board that bestowed the honor. “They outdid everyone with their volunteer work and commitment to the community.”

The sector board is composed of fraternity alumni who oversee all chapters in a designated area and look for the fraternity that has been most active and involved.

“(The Cal Poly chapter) is not just trying to do the bare minimum,” Alfaro said. “They’re doing it because they want to.”

Receiving the honor is a validation of the efforts put forth by the fraternity this past year.

“It feels very rewarding,” Hurtado said. “We did a lot of hard work throughout the year and it feels good to be recognized for it, especially because we have a lot of other chapters in Northern California that have done a good job also.”

Much of the community service the fraternity carries out is in the form of campus tours, including having many of its members’ old high schools come to visit Cal Poly.

Lambda Theta Phi’s achievement this year is especially notable, as it comes during a resurgence of the fraternity after it nearly disappeared two years ago, explained Sector Board Vice President Alfaro.

Just two years ago the chapter was down to having only three brothers.

Founded in 1998, Cal Poly’s chapter currently has 12 members, and Lambda Theta Phi has taken the position of fastest-growing Latino fraternity in California.

The Chapter of the Year designation, however, does not mean an end to the chapter’s work this year. The fraternity will be hosting its annual California Conference on Saturday, April 29.

“Brothers from throughout the state will arrive in San Luis Obispo and be presented with several workshops on how to become effective leaders, communicators, how to effectively conduct meetings, etc.,” Hurtado said. All of the workshops are facilitated by alumni brothers.

Brotherhood and pride are the lure of this fraternity, Hurtado said. “I think it mixes in with the idea of having a family outside the home,” he said, “because we are there for each other.”

“It is a very big culture shock for Latinos and other minorities at Cal Poly, and (having each other) helps us to adjust to life in San Luis Obispo and (on campus).”

Fraternity member Sal Heredia said his favorite aspect of Lambda Theta Phi life is being able to travel to different schools and having brothers there that you know. “It’s just a great bond, what you have between brothers.”

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