Lambda Phi Epsilon emerges as new Asian American fraternity at SU

After a hazing scandal that rocked Nu Alpha Phi, another Asian Greek organization rises to prominence hoping to leave a lasting impression on the campus.

Bryan Dosono didn’t have many friends in high school.

He is introverted, and didn’t connect well with his classmates. Born and raised on a Native American reservation in the Yakima Valley area of Washington state, Dosono, who is Filipino, was part of the 1 percent of Asians who lived there.

“It was an opportunity for us to get to know each other and form a bond that will last a lifetime."
- Hugh Yang

That’s why he decided to attend the University of Washington in Seattle, where Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders compose more than 28 percent of the student population, according to data compiled by the school in 2014. In the first quarter of his freshman year, he joined Lambda Phi Epsilon, the world's largest Asian American fraternity with 59 chapters spanning across North America and Canada.

Dosono enjoyed his experience so much that when he was accepted to a doctoral program at Syracuse University, he wanted to start a chapter here.

“Greek life was so fulfilling in undergrad for me I wanted to bring that experience to Syracuse,” Dosono said.

Dosono, 25, is currently in the second year of his PhD program studying information science and technology at the School of Information Studies. When he first arrived in Syracuse, he saw the active Greek life on campus, but noticed the limited options for Asian American students. There was only one Asian-interest fraternity, Nu Alpha Phi, and one Asian-interest sorority, Kappa Phi Lambda.

“Seeing that Syracuse University is so steeped in Greek tradition, it boggled my mind that there was only one option,” Dosono said. “I think it’s important for schools to have options because you don’t want an Asian American student to join [a fraternity] because it’s the only one. It needs the right values.”

He pitched Lambda Phi Epsilon, nicknamed Lambdas, to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs last April. In June, Lambdas and Sigma Psi Zeta, another Asian-interest sorority, received bids to “expand” to the SU campus.

Dosono immediately began the recruitment process in September by seeking out prospective members. He attended the fall club fair on the Quad and spoke at student organization meetings, fliers in hand, trying to garner interest for his fraternity.

More than 20 students showed up to Lambda Phi Epsilon’s general interest meeting on Sept. 27. Dosono invited a panel of Lambda members from Cornell University and Binghamton University to speak to the audience. Among the students in the crowd were Hugh Yang, a systems and information science junior, and Kevin Yeung, an economics sophomore.

Yang, who grew up in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, said he was initially interested in joining Nu Alpha Phi, the first Asian American fraternity at SU. But he said his personality didn’t click well with the fraternity, so he decided not to try it out.

When he met Dosono in September, Dosono spoke to Yang about chartering Lambda Phi Epsilon and leaving a legacy as a “founding father.” Yang said he felt curious about the new group.

Like Yang, Yeung felt compelled to join after speaking with Dosono individually, who told Yeung that this would be a “worthwhile experience.” Yeung, a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, said most of his friends on campus prior to joining Lambdas were Asian international students and white students. He said he had not been exposed to many Asian American students.

“I felt like I never found my true identity or learned about my Asian American identity,” Yeung said. “I never found a clique.”

After a round of interviews, Dosono invited 14 students – including Yang and Yeung – to form an interest group they later named Syracuse Prestige. This group, narrowed down to just seven students in the spring semester, would eventually become the chartering class for Lambda Phi Epsilon.

The pledging process

Although they didn’t speak about the details of officially joining the fraternity, a process they called “intake,” both Yang and Yeung described the initiation as difficult, but rewarding.

“The intake process this semester was a lot of brotherhood and bonding,” Yang said. “It was an opportunity for us to get to know each other and form a bond that will last a lifetime.”

Yeung said he learned a lot about time management from the pledging process, which they said was time consuming.

Vu Tran, an alumnus of Binghamton University and a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon since 2010, was the cohort’s “new member educator.” He was responsible for guiding the group through the pledging process.

Originally from the city of Syracuse, Tran said each of the seven members put in a lot of work into joining Lambda Phi Epsilon, and that he was proud of them.

“I can’t ask for much more [from them],” Tran said.

The hazing incident

While Dosono and Tran were attempting to establish Lambda Phi Epsilon on campus, a hazing scandal was brewing for the other Asian American fraternity. reported on March 4 that a 20-year-old student, later identified as Joshua Gallo, was involved in a hazing incident that could have cost him four fingers from frostbite ­­– his pinky and ring fingers on both hands. Police later arrested and charged two members of Nu Alpha Phi, senior Jeffrey Yam and sophomore Tae Kim, with misdemeanor first-degree hazing. The fraternity was immediately suspended.

SU sent out an email to students reinforcing its zero-tolerance policy with hazing.

“The University has zero tolerance for any form of hazing and takes this matter extremely seriously,” the email said. It also said the two students would “be subject to the University’s Student Code of Conduct.” Yam and Kim may face suspension, expulsion or loss of University recognition and privileges, in addition to the consequences determined by city courts, according to the code of conduct.

Three Nu Alpha Phi pledges were forced to do “exercises” in the snow and in subzero temperatures as a form of punishment three to four times a day for 22 days, according to the police report. They did pushups, sit-ups and a “leap-frog exercise” for 30 minutes without any gloves, hats or winter gear, according to the report. Gallo didn’t lose any fingers, but has started physical therapy, according to

The incident reached national news, as media outlets including NBC News, the Huffington Post, and the New York Daily News picked up the story.

Meanwhile, Dosono and Tran were taking precautions to avoid falling into similar traps while pledging the new members.

“Sometimes, new members don’t know what they’re getting themselves into,” Tran said. “Sometimes, it could cost them their lives and injury. That’s not what we want.”

Dosono saw this as an opportunity to begin a new conversation on the effects of hazing.

“You use hazing in the military; you see it in athletics,” he said. “It’s all because there’s this power dynamic of having an uninitiated group of members feel like they have to earn their membership in an existing organization.” He said it has a lot to do with masculinity and proving that a member is “man enough” to join.

To crack down on hazing, Dosono suggested challenging old traditions and rites of passages he said many groups still follow.

“We should defy the status quo, think differently and start with asking why,” he said. “End archaic traditions of things that don’t add to member development. It does not belong in Greek life.”

Gallo, the student who suffered severe frostbite, was originally part of the Syracuse Prestige interest group with Yang and Yeung before pledging for Nu Alpha Phi. Yang, who met Gallo through the interest group, was shocked to hear about what had happened to his friend.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes an event to realize some of the things we’re doing wrong,” Yang said. “Everyone says hazing is bad, but no one speaks up about it until something happens.” Yang said the school needs to do more to prevent hazing in the future.

A history of hazing

Despite Dosono and Tran's vigilance, hazing isn’t new to Asian American Greek organizations. In Dec. 2013, 19-year-old freshman Chun Hsein “Michael” Deng died from hazing by members of Baruch College’s Pi Delta Psi fraternity. At an unsanctioned pledging retreat in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, Deng died from “major brain trauma” after participating in a ritual that involved blindfolding pledges, placing heavy items on their backs and having others tackle them. The Baruch chapter of Pi Delta Psi is now permanently disbanded.

Lambda Phi Epsilon has also been through hazing scandals. In April 2013, San Francisco State University expelled the fraternity from its campus after 18-year-old Peter Tran died at a fraternity party. Officials suspected that alcohol played a role in his death.

Victoria Chan, a graduate student and Greek life advisor at the University of West Georgia and a Syracuse University alumna, wrote a blog entry that she said circulated widely in the Greek community after Deng’s death in 2013. A member of Kappa Phi Lambda, SU’s first Asian American sorority, Chan expressed her anger and sadness in the blog.

“How are we going to explain this to Michael’s parents, who sent their son to college four months ago?” she wrote. “How am I going to go home and explain this to my 80-year-old father, who still does not understand the concept of fraternities and sororities?”

She asked her “fellow brothers and sisters in Asian-interest Greek lettered organizations” to “wake up” and think about ways to end hazing culture.

Chan said she cried for days after Deng’s death, an incident which she said “broke her heart.” Some of her friends in Greek organizations asked her to take down the blog entry, but she refused. “We need to talk about this,” she told her friends. “This young man was murdered.”

Despite standing up to her friends in Greek organizations, Chan said fraternity and sorority contributions to the community are often overlooked.

“It’s so easy to target fraternities and sororities,” she said. “Are there bad apples in the bunch? Absolutely. Is there good stuff going on too? Absolutely.”

Chan said she is excited for Lambda Phi Epsilon, which she hopes will bring more awareness about Asian American men to the SU campus.

The show goes on

With Nu Alpha Phi suspended, Lambda Phi Epsilon officially announced its arrival at SU. On April 4, the fraternity hosted a probate, a show where new members of the fraternity reveal their identities.

After more than a year of recruiting, retaining and developing new members, Dosono had finally completed his goal of bringing Lambda Phi Epsilon to his new campus.

“I am really pleased with the members who have chartered the fraternity here at SU,” he said. “They’re all men of outstanding character.”

Despite belonging to a different fraternity, the new Lambda members said they are friends with the men in Nu Alpha Phi. Yeung said they supported him and Yang throughout the chartering process.

“When I talk to them, they’re sad about the situation,” Yeung said. “But they do genuinely support us and what we’re trying to establish on campus.”

Tran said the two fraternities share many similarities. He said he hopes Nu Alpha Phi will come back stronger if it is re-established on campus.

“In a lot of ways, we stand for the same things,” Tran said. “I don’t wish any ill intentions on their group because we have the same values.”

Dosono hopes that when Nu Alpha Phi returns, the two fraternities will work together and support each other.

“I think it would be a collaborative relationship,” Dosono said. “Both organizations will challenge each other to do more for this campus and the community.”

"Rises to prominence,"

"Rises to prominence," "emerges" and literally zero quotes or even any attempts to speak with members of Nu Alpha Phi. You not only exhibit complete amateur practices as a journalist but also fail to show unbiased reporting through your writing.

It's a nearly 2,000 word story where you only talked to three people -- again, none of which were from Nu Alpha Phi, the fraternity you continue to cast in villainous lighting.

524 words to write about Nu Alpha Phi's hazing incident, 289 to talk about Lambda Phi Epsilon.

How do you know Lambda Phi Epsilon is emerging? How do you know it's rising? Or reaching prominence?

If you want to write a 3,000 piece on how great this fraternity and your friend is, do it on your own page or blog. Don't call yourself a reporter and masquerade your public relations love pitch as journalism though.

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