Two years ago, a group of men had a goal to bring a fraternity centered around Asian interest to USC’s campus. With the help of Pi Alpha Phi alumni from Clemson University, the group finally started to fill out the paperwork to try and establish a colony at USC.
After their hard work, the first Asian-interest fraternity has been brought to campus. Pi Alpha Phi was founded in 1929 at the University of California Berkley but was brought to USC’s campus in October 2021.
There are currently seven brothers in the Pi Alpha Phi fraternity, but they are looking to expand and get more brothers from a variety of different backgrounds. Pi Alpha Phi President, Matthew Yoon, said he has formed a natural connection with the other brothers.
“I just think that although we didn’t know each other at first, we all had like similar goals, similar visions for how we wanted to establish ourselves, establish the Asian community on our campus,” Yoon, a third-year international business and economics student, said. “In the span of one semester, they went from strangers to people that I genuinely consider family, like brothers.”
Pi Alpha Phi hosted a fraternity reveal last semester. A Pi Alpha Phi alumni from UNC-Chapel Hill helped them create a play that explained who the fraternity was.
"It was centered around one of the Netflix series, Squid Games. So we incorporated that into something that's more modern," said Ethan Pham, the Vice President of Pi Alpha Phi. "We had a whole entire skit, some dances and things like that. So it was a lot more fun. It definitely shook off a lot of nerves."
The Russell House Ballroom fit over 200 people for the reveal.
“It was probably one of the best experiences I’ve had in college,” Yoon said. “One thing for me was that I’ve always heard that Asian Greek life in the Carolinas, in the Southeast in general, is very connected.”
Multicultural organizations from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, the University of Georgia and Clemson University also came to witness the reveal. Pi Alpha Phi alumni flew in from Texas and other brothers FaceTimed from New York to celebrate.
“Asian fraternities and sororities are really starting a movement in these past five years, I would say. We’ve definitely had such a big upswing in the amount of people participating in Asian Greek life in the southeast, and so, being able to see that in person was really cool,” Yoon said.
Within its first month as a fraternity, Pi Alpha Phi contributed to the Toys for Tots drive — which was started by the Marine Corps — by collecting toys and money. With one brother in the Marine Corps, the brothers contributed about 40 volunteer hours as a fraternity and said they hope to continue working with Toys for Tots annually.
“The fact that we were able to just go straight into trying to find a good cause and trying to help the community, it speaks a lot towards how dedicated we are and how we want to change the stigma surrounding Greek life in general," Yoon said. "It’s not just social events, but we do a lot of philanthropy, we do a lot of fundraising.”
This semester, Pi Alpha Phi is planning to impact the community more. The brothers set up a ramen fundraiser on Greene Street on Feb. 9 and have also partnered with the Filipino American Student Association to host a March Madness tournament at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.
“We just are mainly focused on helping the Asian community get exposed to the community — spreading awareness, doing more activities, surrounding that area of interest,” Pham said.