Marie Caceres ENGL-1101-030 Ethnography This paper to me was a challenge, but I found it pretty interesting being
able to observe a certain group or discourse community and learn from them. I am actually in the OWLS interest group, and through this paper I now realize why I wanted to join in the first place. There are many discourse communities among the university, up the street, or just about anywhere! It was an enjoyable process.
“Chi-Hoot!” The Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Incorporated Alpha Lambda Chapter. Pretty Big name huh? Also known as Corazones Unidos Siempre (Hearts United Always), this group is not only a business, but also a family. Established almost thirty years ago, the organization’s purpose became not only to promote service, but cultural awareness as well. In an essay, a writer named John Swales brought up many points about discourse communities. Discourse communities have an agreed set of public goals. They communicate with different mechanisms and use those mechanisms to give back feedback and information. November 21st 2011 felt like any regular day to all of the UNC Charlotte alumni and staff. But for these young ladies in C.U.S it was a special day: the welcoming of four new sisters. To them its not only history in the making, but a tradition. These four pledging women were ready to become part of history: The coming out of the new sisters, or else called the “neos”. Dressed down to a black hoodie, thick black-pocketed pants
tucked into dark leather combat boots. It’s 8:07pm. The neos stroll one behind another chanting one of the many Chi Upsilon Sigma’s songs. Hair slicked back into a ponytail with their faces in disguise. They welcome all the other Greek organizations: The Diversified Greek Council, the Panhellenic Associations, National Pan-Hellenic councils, Interfraternies, and the Independents. Then one by one come out from what they call the line, and loudly and proudly, state to the whole university why they want to be in C.U.S., the hard work they put through, and how excited they are to become a sister. “It is an honor and a privilege,” said the first. She jumps out from the line and takes of her hoodie, revealing to the world her face, but not only that, her wearing those Greek letters that will change her life forever. Methods: Defining a discourse community As I stated in the beginning of this paper, I defined what a discourse community was. They are people who share common public goals; they have their own way of communicating among themselves. These communities also interact with each other in their own specific ways. Something I picked up from someone else writing on another group was that a discourse community can also be about having a balance of experienced and inexperienced people in the community. Now why exactly is Chi Upsilon Sigma considered a discourse community? Although it is a National Sorority, these ladies also take it as their job. The way the act with each other keeps the state borderlines inexistent. For example, a sister in Nebraska would know the same stroll, or a type of performance step to show an entrance and who you are, than a sister located in Florida.
Findings: History, Values, and System Established April 1890 with this following mission statement: “We, the members of, Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Incorporated, aware of the prejudices and obstacles facing the minority women of our communities, dedicate ourselves to improving these conditions and to working towards the betterment of all women. We devote ourselves to this challenge, to be achieved through hard work, patience and the collective effort to educate, as is exemplified in our motto, ‘Wisdom through Education’. ("Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc.")” As I studied this discourse community I have seen their sense of pride when they wear their letters. To these women it was a milestone they got through, and are very prideful of not only the women they are, but also the women they will be. As I observed the C.U.S sisters, I automatically understood their authority system. Each school, or chapter, has a president (an undergraduate, most of the time junior or senior,), vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. Standard organization government right? Well, not exactly. A characteristic that really intrigued me from Chi Upsilon Sigma was their need to fundraise, provide services, create programs, and have a great time doing them all together! They have a social chair, a program chair, a community service chair, and a fundraising chair. They love to send messages and events through Facebook so that most of the student body is aware and welcome to join them in the event. Something that really interested me was that they were the first Greek Latino organization to step. Stepping is a form of dancing and performing. One uses the rhythm of their body, mostly their feet to stomp, and their hands to clap, thus creating a beat. They hold “step-shows” or as called in UNC Charlotte “yard-shows.” Stepping is mostly
common with African-American Greek organizations, but C.U.S took it to another level. These women focus very much on education. They state the fact that a woman must be independent and educated, thus creating wisdom. They want their sister to focus during school, even if it means cancelling a social, or program. I interviewed Melissa Almeida, a current UNC Charlotte alumni and the programmer of the Organization of Women Looking for Sisterhood in Chi Upsilon Sigma, or OWLS in C.U.S., and we spoke for around twenty minutes. I asked her to tell me about her group. “Chi Upsilon Sigma is a National Latin sorority that promotes the independence and smarts of women. Were known for being educated and classy women that try to better not only ourselves, but the community around us as well,” she replied. “We’ve never had issues with members in our chapter that didn’t agree or support our goals. With going through the educational process and interviewing, the chapter weeds out who shares our same values.” I also asked her why did she join. “I actually became a sister at Rutgers University. Chi Upsilon Sigma was a home away from home. These girls became family to me very quickly. I felt it was exciting to be a part of a group that not only takes respect to my culture, but to the cultures of others as well! I just automatically fell in love with the organization. I have been a member for around four years now.” “Now why exactly do you ladies fundraise so much for the sorority?” I asked. Melissa stated, “We do what we can to give back to our sisters. The more chances for fundraising, the less out-of-pocket money we would have to pay. This money doesn’t just go to us, but back to them. This pays for our yearly sister-region retreats, conventions, or other things needed for the chapter.” Melissa also told me that they meet once a week, excluding holidays. That way they stay up to date with their socials, programs, and community
service events. Finally I asked her how the Chi Upsilon Sigma Alpha Lambda Chapter kept communication. “We have an established email for both the entire sorority, and just the chapter at UNC Charlotte. The women have their emails, phones, texts, whichever is best for them, however we also send a copy to the chapter email, that way we can assure we sent it at a certain day, time, or that the information can be seen by any of the women in that chapter.” The Alpha Lambda Chapter of C.U.S. loves for the university to know them, and get to know them. They stay active by putting flyers and posts just about everywhere (with OWLS on them showing their official mascot) in the school and on the Internet. They like to support other Greek councils and student organizations by going to their probates and programs. They are full of culture and are a very big melting pot. The 2011 Fall Line of Neos are of Arab, Chinese, and Vietnamese descent! Not to mention there are sisters in this chapter only that are Haitian, African-American, and the president of the chapter coming from Asian descent! This diversity is the reason Chi Upsilon Sigma seems appealing to many people around. Conclusion: The future of the “Cussies” These women consider this not only an organization, but also a business. Their main goal at the end of the day is to find women who share their values, and keep the sorority in order. I found this discourse community to be interesting with the way they communicate, how they have the same common goals and share them with the public. The Chi Upsilon National Latin Sorority Alpha Lambda Chapter at UNC Charlotte has a big future ahead of them. Chi-Hoot!
Works Cited Almeida, Melissa.Personal interview. 1 Dec. 2011 "CUS Facts." Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority Inc.. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://justbecus.org/>.