Our Purpose
With roots spanning over 100 years, Phi Iota Alpha is a national fraternity that sets itself apart from other organizations through its history and commitment to individual development, leadership, team work and cultural awareness. Established December 26, 1931, ‘La Familia Fiota’ is the Oldest Latino Fraternity in Existence. The distinguished brotherhood is composed of undergraduate, graduate and professional individuals dedicated to empowering the Latino community providing intense social, cultural and professional programs and activities geared towards the appreciation, promotion and preservation of the Latin American Culture as well as the socio-economic and academic advancement of Latinos and other minorities. Fuerza, Integridad and Amistad, form the bonds and foundation of our brotherhood that have endured many generations

Our Foundation
As an organization whose roots stem back to the late 1800s, we cherish and live by the ideals set forth by our forefathers. Our organization prides itself in the ability to motivate people, develop leaders, and create new ways to unite our community. We challenge ourselves in supporting and developing a strong network for the advancement of our people. To this end, each member swears loyalty not only to himself but also to a greater cause, his people and Latin America. We strive to unify determined and assertive men who have a strong sense of identity and who share our vision and our mission. We seek out men who are willing and able to individually and collectively contribute to the duties of brotherhood.

The history of Phi Iota Alpha is the history of all Latino college students and professionals who strive to maintain their intellectual heritage alive. Since its inception, when the legendary "Union Hispano Americana" (UHA) was first organized in 1898, the fraternity has upheld its sublime and unique ideological foundation of Pan-Americanism. The ideology of Pan-Americanism can be summarized as the "unification of all the Latin American nations and all Latin American people." The Fraternity has served as an "Ideological University" through the study and interpretation of Pan-Americanism inspired by the accomplishments of its Five Pillars: Simon Bolivar, Jose de San Martin, Bernardo O’Higgins, Benito Juarez and Jose Marti.

Through the years, this prestigious institution has witnessed a number of operational and structural modifications as a form of survival and adaptation to its time. Through it all, Phi Iota Alpha continues to fulfill its distinct goals by uniting its members fraternally in a manner in which, individually and collectively, they will contribute towards the fulfillment of the organization's mission and ideology; fomenting "the scientific study of the social, economical, and political problems of Pan-America;" and serving "as a source of personal growth in which in conjunction with academic preparation, each brother will find an appropriate environment to develop." In short, Phi Iota Alpha has always been, and will continue to be, a source of empowerment for Latinos everywhere.

 

The First Latino Student Organization
The roots of Phi Iota Alpha were implanted at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY in 1898. A group of Latin American students organized La 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, consequently, Pi Delta Phi 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 when they realized the existence of other similar organizations. Pi Delta Phi also initiated a search throughout other American universities for other fraternities with similar goals.

First, Pi Delta Phi established communication with Phi Lambda Alpha Fraternity, which had been recently founded in 1919 at the University of Southern California, Berkeley. After some communication, these two organizations realized the existence of the strong non-Greek letter secret society of Union Hispano Americana, and 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 Fraternity, with the distinctive emblem of Pi Delta Phi and the constitution, goals, and 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 Fraternity, a mostly social/cultural organization, was founded in 1904 at Louisiana State University. Between 1904 and 1925, Sigma Iota expanded very rapidly and thereby became the first international 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 Iota Alpha is Born
On December of 1931, the most profound historical event in the history of Latino fraternities took place in Troy, NY. Delegates from Phi Lambda Alpha Fraternity and Sigma Iota 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. By 1921, Phi Lambda Alpha was in search of expanding throughout the United States the old ideology of Pan-Americanism. Sigma Iota 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.

On December 26, 1931, the first day of a three-day convention, Phi Iota Alpha was born as both groups agreed on the merger contract to unify under one name, one banner, one organization and one ideal. The next day of business was dedicated to preparing the details of revising the constitution, working on the creation of a shield to represent the newly formed national Latino brotherhood, and internal rules and regulations documents. On December 28th, by the end of the three-day convention, most of the merger was completed. Now the last step in the merger was the ratification of some of the chapters of Sigma Iota that were not represented at the convention.

A Changing World
Since that historical unification, Phi Iota Alpha expanded nationally as well as internationally. At the international level, the Fraternity sponsored the 1932 convention in the city of New York with the purpose of forming la Union Latino Americana (ULA). The ULA was a fundamental pact that organized Latin America into 22 zones; each of the 21 countries constituted a zone and Phi Iota Alpha represented the 22nd zone in the United States. Under the ULA, merely the structural design of Pan-Americanism, all the zones were bonded by the same constitution and internal rules and regulations.

 

This union proved efficient in setting forth the ideology of Pan-Americanism since most of the zones actively and diligently participated in the name of the ideals. By 1937, the ULA had several well-established and functional zones including: Phi Kappa Alpha in Cuba,  Phi Sigma Alpha in Puerto Rico and Phi Tau Alpha in Mexico. In September of 1939, the Phi Sigma Alpha zone decided to separate from the ULA and eventually, merged with Sigma Delta Alpha to form Phi Sigma Alpha Fraternity of Puerto Rico.

It was not until 1945, the outbreak of World War II, that the expansion rate was significantly reduced for Phi Iota Alpha in the U.S. By 1951, the Fraternity, feeling the effect the War was having on society and inversely on its expansion, drafted and implemented a new expansion strategy, hence the decade of the 1950's was a period of positive internal growth for the Fraternity. In the early 1950's, Phi Iota Alpha eradicated any residue of its political agenda. With only a few chapters, the Fraternity continued to pursue its vivid mission by implementing the "Universidad Ideologica."

The 1960's proved to be very challenging years for Phi Iota Alpha and all Latinos in general. The effects of a World War II, the Vietnam War, and the "Me" generation resulted in an anti-institutional atmosphere amongst many college students. In addition, this drastically reduced the influx of Latin American students into American universities which hindered potential members. As a result, by 1968, after many years of struggling to adapt to its time, the only active undergraduate chapter at RPI closed the doors of their chapter house. By 1973, the last active Secretary General graduated from RPI, taking with him the Fraternity's official documents and archives. From 1973 to 1983, the Fraternity witnessed a period of inactivity at the undergraduate level. Some efforts were made to re-establish Phi Iota Alpha but these efforts did not bear any fruit. Throughout this period, brothers continued to maintain communication, as well as to accomplishing the mission of the organization. The history, ideals and goals of the Fraternity never diminished. It simply did not have active undergraduate members to cultivate them. Phi Iota Alpha continued to exist within the hearts of many graduate members as they continued to develop their professional lives mostly in Latin American countries and in the United States.

The Lion's Awakening
In 1984, a group of determined young men at RPI, upon learning about the Latino empowerment and culture that once existed on their campus, took the challenge of reviving the spirit of Phi Iota Alpha. In doing so, these courageous young men became the new generation of Phi Iota Alpha. Briefly after the re-establishment of the Fraternity, in an extraordinary session, the last Secretary General instituted the members of the RPI chapter as the Alpha Chapter. In the 1980's the Fraternity dedicated its efforts to rebuilding the organizational infrastructure and to expand to several universities in New York State. By 1991, Phi Iota Alpha had chartered six chapters that represented all areas of New York State.

 

The Lion's Reawakening

Recent History
The Fraternity has been significantly improved and slightly modified to insure its proper functioning and survival well into the 21st century. In 1994, the Fraternity was further improved, as a modified version of "Proposito 21" was accepted and implemented as a set of operational guiding principles, which are still in effect today. The "Proposito" facilitated both the modified organizational infrastructure and a constitutional revision to optimize the Fraternity system.

As of 1996, the Fraternity was looking into the future challenges of the 21st century and adjusted its long-term planning strategies to insure the proper development of the Fraternity beyond the closing of the millennium. Furthermore, by 1997, the Fraternity had four solidly organized Alumni Chapters. By 1998, with a fortified constitution and an operations manual, the Fraternity was duly prepared to begin expansion plans. By the end of 1999, the Fraternity had dramatically grown to triple its size in chapters since 1991. These chapters included active regions in Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Florida, and Texas. In 2000, since the operations and management of Phi Iota Alpha has been solidified, it is able to take on larger and more complicated challenges. As a result, the organization has re-expanded to other regions, namely Maryland and California, while maintaining it's consistency and sublime mission of Pan-Americanism.

Today, Phi Iota Alpha commemorates its long history. It is the commemoration of the organization of the UHA as well as the merging of Sigma Iota and Phi Lambda Alpha. Phi Iota Alpha also commemorates the grandiose formation of the ULA, the implementation of the "Universidad Ideologica" the re-foundation and the re-establishment of the organization from the East coast to the West coast. Yet, the Fraternity has had to overcome many obstacles to claim its long and arduous history. As the Fraternity continues to plan for the future, it is of utmost importance to remember that this history was made by men of great vision, leadership, devotion, persistence and most importantly, commitment to the improvement of our "Raza, Joven, Noble y Guerrera."

 

Home                         Pillars                          History                        Events                      

Chapters                  Pictures                     Brothers                     Membership