Michigan State University Colony
Back in 1996, Alex Alvarez wanted to fulfill some voids that were missing at the Michigan State University campus. Early in his college career, Alvarez understood the importance of minority student retention in higher education. He wanted to build a support system for young men who had a common vision and main goal of graduation. A few of the divine nine fraternities were heavily interested in Alvarez because of his exceptional leadership skills, drive and dedication. Alvarez, as well as many others, were part of Latino Men’s Club; a club on campus that helped Latino students in their endeavors. There was a large group of men involved in it. Soon, talks began about bringing a new fraternal organization to the MSU campus. As research was being done, people dropped interest in it. But many remained. And as organizations were being narrowed down, the group eventually split in two and went their separate ways in finding the right organization for them, respectively. This particular group of young men that included Alex Alvarez, Dan Hyliard, German Ruiz, Carlos Oquendo, Anthony Hrit, David Richmond, Max Monroy-Miller, Victor Martinez Torres, Robert Nothoff, and Salvador Montes De Oca, narrowed it down to two fraternities that they would choose from. The group went to a national conference of one of the two organizations. They had a chance to meet members and also got a first-hand look into what this fraternity was about and had to offer. But ultimately, the group was not impressed and decided to pass on them. The other organization they reached out to was Omega Delta Phi. They heard about Omega Delta Phi from a friend (who was part of the interest group) of the CAMP program. CAMP (College Assisted Migrant Program) had a lot of southern ties. In 1997, brothers from the Omicron Chapter were very informative, supportive, and helpful in getting the information the group needed to make a final decision in which fraternity to move forward with. Their first advisor, Luis Garcia was a very supportive individual in what the young men wanted to accomplish. Though not many other student organizations were supportive of these men starting up ODPhi, other people who were starting their own organizations were supportive of one another. The goals were to establish a real group of brothers who supported each other through college and in to graduation because that was very important to all of them. They also wanted a home away from home while away at school, as well as they wanted to make a difference in the community. Moreover, the young men wanted to break the fraternity stereotypes and aspired to be trendsetters. “Not all of our founders were Latino. So they wanted to create an outlet to those who wanted to learn,” said Alpha Beta Brother, Francisco Velazquez. “A lot of people labeled them as Latino Thugs on the MSU campus, but they set out to break that stereotype,” shared Velazquez. Ten men from the MSU campus took on the challenge of the founder’s program for ODPhi. And on April 5th, 1998, the Alpha Beta Chapter was founded. Community service and graduation were strong components to why ODPhi was expanded to the Michigan State University campus, now known as Alpha Beta. Aspiring to be trendsetters since 1997, the Awfully Brutal chapter is known for their stepping, strolling, and of course, their unmasking shows. Many do not know, but Alpha Beta chapter was the very FIRST to do an unmasking show outside of the divine nine organizations. The great thing about it is that Alex Alvarez and his line brothers got the idea from and asked all of the divine nine if it was cool for their chapter to do an unmasking; they did not want to disrespect them. “We started this back in the day, and now everybody does these ‘probates’ without showing respect or knowing the history of where it all started. AB had the blessing and respect from all divine nine organizations to do unmaskings at Michigan State University,” shared Velazquez, during a much earlier conversation. All of the divine nine organizations were very supportive of this and pleased with these stand-up gentlemen. ODPhi nationals and many southern chapters were not very pleased with Alpha Beta doing these unmasking. But Alpha Beta kept doing what they set out to do: set trends. 43 men have crossed at the Awfully Brutal chapter since the chapter’s inception. And to this day, AB continues to carry out the legacy and the vision that their founders had in the late 90’s.