The ‘high­ caliber men’ of Alpha Psi Rho aim to unite Asian-Pacific Islander students

Andrea Martinez, Copy Editor


 

Winner of the Community Development and Lifelong Membership award at the 2014­-2015 CSUSM Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards, Alpha Psi Rho epitomizes the benefits of brotherhood.

The Asian-­Pacific Islander (API) fraternity was founded in 2000 at SDSU and continues to establish charters throughout the southwest with aspirations to expand throughout the nation. The CSUSM chapter began as an interest group in 2006 and was officially chartered in 2012.

“Our interest group was known as BAPS—our four pillars: brotherhood, academics, prosperity and strength … It pretty much took a six year process of blood sweat, tears and paperwork because we had to wait for an expansion on cultural orgs,” said President Joshua Foronda, who won Fraternity Man of the Year for the 2014­-2015 academic year.

Fraternity and Sorority Life recognized student interest in adding an API fraternity to the campus, driving the efforts of the interest group.

“When they told us there was going to be an expansion in 2012, we applied and got accepted, and BAPS turned into Alpha Psi Rho,” said Foronda.

As of fall 2015, 10 percent of the student population is API and the men of Alpha Psi Rho aim to be a resource for that group.

“We all share similar backgrounds, similar beliefs, similar culture and while our campus isn’t too big, it gives us a place to be ourselves and have people understand who we are,” said Nikko Marabante, who serves as the philanthropy chair and alumni chair.

The fraternity has grown from 5 members in fall 2014 to 21 members in spring 2016 and continues to seek new members, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.

“Our long term goal is to really push for diversity,” said Web Master Shaun Icasiano. “We don’t want to just emphasize that we’re a Filipino fraternity, we want to be that diverse fraternity that welcomes all races.”

The men welcome people of all ethnicities to learn about and celebrate API cultures. They host events to celebrate various API holidays, most recently celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year and hosting an API Cultural Festival for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

One way that the men express API culture is through stepping.

“It is important to us because it is a way of expression. We get to express who we are as an Asian­-Pacific Islander fraternity, but also have fun while doing it,” said Marabante.

They also recently celebrated their 16th anniversary on March 1 at SDSU, where they held a conference for all members.

“It was really enlightening because I’ve never experienced conferences that discuss what our cultural significance is with our fraternity,” said Icasiano.

The fraternity’s philanthropic work with underprivileged youth is also influenced by their culture and experiences of API youth in the 90s.

“The founding fathers were trying to find a safe place for the API youth and kind of bring the community together to avoid certain paths where they wouldn’t prosper,” said Foronda.

Their major annual philanthropic event is RHOlympics, which is held at the Palomar Family YMCA in Escondido. In 2015, they raised $1,000 for the organization. They also volunteer at Petco Park, serving 30 hours of community service per Rho to raise funds for the YMCA.

The brothers are dedicated to spreading awareness of API cultures and changing the reputation of fraternities. As stated on their website, the men are “fueled by challenge, others’ skepticism and a purpose of becoming high­-caliber men.”

“We hold this burden of walking around with our letters and being judged for who we are,” said Foronda, “But the letters don’t define us, we define the letters.”

The Cougar Chronicle The independent student news site of California