» Our Origins
The roots of Phi Iota Alpha Latino Fraternity were implanted at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY in 1898. A group of Latin American students organized the Union Hispano Americana as a cultural and intellectual secret society based on the ideology of Pan-Americanism. The immediate goals of the UHA were to provide a cultural environment for students of Latin America and Spain. The UHA was the first association of Latin American students ever founded in the United States. The ideals and operations of the UHA expanded to several colleges and universities in the United States. However, due to the secrecy imposed upon its members, not many records were kept. The expansion and growth of the UHA was based on compromise and the ultimate need of similar organizations to unify and become more powerful.
In the northeastern part of the United States, a group of Latin American students decided to organize a cultural and intellectual fraternity, as a result Pi Delta Phi Latino Fraternity was founded at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916. Shortly after its foundation, Pi Delta Phi initiated a search to expand to other colleges and universities where they became aware of the existence of other similar organizations.
Pi Delta Phi then established communications with Phi Lambda Alpha Latino Fraternity, which had been recently founded in 1919 at the University of California, at Berkeley. After some communication, these two organizations realized the existence of the strong non-Greek letter secret society of la Union Hispano Americana. As a result of intensive correspondence and various interviews, the three organizations merged. In their merger agreement, the three organizations adopted the name of Phi Lambda Alpha Latino Fraternity, with the distinctive emblem & constitution of Pi Delta Phi, and the goals & motto of the UHA. This new union was formalized in June 1921, in the city of New York.
Meanwhile, in the southern part of the U.S. another similar organization was under development. Sigma Iota Latino Fraternity, a mostly social/cultural organization, was founded in 1912 at Louisiana State University. Between 1912 and 1925, Sigma Iota expanded very rapidly and thereby became the first international latino fraternity of Latin American students. By 1928, the international organization Sigma Iota had lost many of its chapters and therefore sought to stabilize its operations by consolidating its chapters in the United States with a more stationary and well-rooted organization.
Phi Lambda Alpha was in search of expanding throughout the United States with the ideology of Pan-Americanism in mind. Sigma Iota Latino Fraternity was in search of revitalizing some of its defunct chapters and expansion opportunities. Thus both organizations complemented each other and the arduous work towards the creation of the Fraternity we now know as Phi Iota Alpha was initiated.
In December of 1931, the most profound historical event in the history of Latino Fraternities took place in Troy, NY. Delegates from Phi Lambda Alpha Latino Fraternity and Sigma Iota Latino Fraternity assembled with the objective of forming a strong and extensive Fraternity to address the needs of Latin Americans in universities in the U.S.