History: Founding Period

Recruitment Stage

Before long, Rogelio and Francisco started having discussions about the widening educational attainment gap between Latinos and non-Latinos and the inability of existing organizations to resolve the crisis. They envisioned a social and academic support group like no other, a new Latino-based fraternity, one that would dramatically increase college enrollment and retention among Latinos and other minority groups at SJSU.

The two carnales were anything but procrastinators. They immediately set out to create such an organization. The first order of business was to recruit more gentlemen interested in turning their dream into reality. Rogelio and Francisco began their search by contacting their circle of friends, reeling in Claudio Pérez and Cesar Estrada, who in turn recruited some of their own friends.

In addition to the chain of friends, the interest group recruited students who visited the EOP office and others who they met on campus and through mutual friends. By the end of the recruitment stage, the group had grown to around twenty-two students, although only eighteen would commit to founding the organization and carrying out its mission.

Planning Stage

"ΣΔΑ was a reaction against hazing and the put-downs of other fraternities. We wanted to distance ourselves from the mainstream process where you had to prove nonsense." Rogelio Bolaños

"There was a focus on academics. Brothers would show up for the pledges' study hours and see if they needed help. We wanted to show them they had a support group to make sure they succeeded and made it through college." Miguel Orejel

From the start, the founders were very clear about one thing: there was to be zero tolerance for hazing. Hazing is the degradation or endangerment of a person as a condition of association with a particular group or organization. At the time, there were two other Latino-based fraternities on campus. The founders observed how badly these organizations treated their potential new members (traditionally referred to as "pledges") and believed a fraternity should create trust, not resentment, between its initiated members and potential new members.

Founders at the library
Left-to-Right: Original Founding Fathers Cesar
Martínez, Francisco Huerta, Claudio Pérez (with
back facing camera), José Cortez, and Miguel
Orejel at Clark Library, SJSU.

The deep sense of belonging among members and soon-to-be members was great in itself, but more than just friendship the founders wanted to provide academic support. According to them, many organizations on campus were focused mostly on socializing or recruiting new members and left academics for last. It was agreed, however, that the ultimate goal of Sigma Delta Alpha would be for its members to graduate from college. In order to fulfill this goal, brothers would organize study groups and tutoring sessions on a regular basis, which would make college life a lot easier.

Two other important principles the founders wanted to exemplify was community service and pride in one's culture. They ran a successful mentoring program at a local middle school and conducted presentations at high schools where they shared their college experiences, taught students what to expect, and awakened in them the idea that they could go to college. All of the founders were Latinos with strong cultural ties and many were foreign born, first-generation college students. They worked with other Latino-based organizations in their community and participated in many culture-related projects.

Development Stage

"The constitution was mostly based on our Latino heritage but we didn't want to create any boundaries. We wanted to welcome all and bring them under one organization." Ramiro Rocha

"We set deadlines. If we were running off-schedule, we wouldn't leave [the meeting room] until we had completed the pre-determined tasks." Luis Medina

The founders wanted to develop a steadfast framework that would endure far beyond their stay at SJSU. Meetings were conducted using Robert's Rules of Order and were held at least twice per week from November of 1991 through May of 1992. Everyone was expected to attend on a regular basis and actively participate in the proceedings. Francisco Huerta, who was already experienced at running meetings, was the first to take charge. When formal elections were held soon after, José Villarreal was elected to serve as chairman of the interest group.

Obrero Monument
The SJSU Student Union was our fraternity's
founders' main meeting place. They would often
stay hours after closing time thanks to Cesar M.
and José T., who were university employees and
had access to the building.

The founders divided themselves into separate committees, making the task of developing ideas much more manageable. These ideas were then discussed with the group as a whole during their semiweekly meetings. Among the various topics discussed was the organization's name and its objectives, goals, colors, and membership eligibility requirements. Also devised was the fraternity handshake.

Rudy Márquez and José Trujillo, both English majors with an incredible aptitude for writing, were largely responsible for translating the group's ideas into words. With the help of their superb writing skills and the group's unwavering determination to succeed, these eighteen gentlemen were able to finalize the constitution and its bylaws on May 5, 1992; just in time for the Cinco de Mayo celebration.

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