Family. A word felt as black and brown people laugh, hug and converse. A group of people from different walks of life connected under the idea of a minority business fraternity, which came about almost a decade ago.
Their first time at the Kelley student organization fair, Mu Beta Lambda did not have a table. But they had a clipboard, a hope and a dream. They had inspired students with a desire the make change and connect students who needed each other, whether they knew it or not.
Mu Beta Lambda, the nation’s first minority business fraternity founded here on IU’s campus in 2012, received a plaque Monday commemorating its founders. The plaque will be housed in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The fraternity is dedicated to the empowerment of minority students in multiple schools throughout IU.
Mu Beta Lambda has set an example of what minority fraternities can do for students. More universities should follow suit and create these safe, comfortable places for business professionals to connect and grow.
Business fraternities are often focused on building business connections and skills for their members. The mission statement of Mu Beta Lambda is “to unite bright minority students and to further develop them into cultured, ethical, exceptional and enterprising business professionals.”
President Neepa Saha said the fraternity gives its members recognition, reputation and resources to help them be successful in life.
Saha said she experienced culture shock coming to IU and lacked community, specifically coming from a high school where white people were the minority. After getting a handle on her academics, she wanted to find an opportunity where she could progress as a person.
“I felt like I fit somewhere finally,” Saha said. “Knowing that I am part of the early stages of a legacy is so amazing to me.”
Whether for car rides or emotional support, members are consistently there for each other. The support is necessary in college, especially at predominantly white institutions. The 2020 class of the Kelley School of Business is 13% minorities, which includes students who are African American, Hispanic, American Indian, Pacific Islander and those indicating two or more races.
Other schools could use this support system.
Members of past classes of Mu Beta Lambda spoke Monday evening at the plaque ceremony.
“I remember a time when there was only a handful of us,” Christina Slaughter said. “We didn’t know the longevity, but we knew we had a common goal in mind.”
There were questions at the beginning on how the organization would function. But that did not phase the early members of Mu Beta Lambda.
Founder Bryce Grimes said he saw the struggles of black and brown students, specifically in the business school. Students were forced to get in where they fit in, and there was a lack of organized support, which hindered a rich experience for minority students.
“If you can’t stay afloat, you miss the Kelley boat,” he said.
Since the inception, there have been 6 more classes of members, 96 members joined, 19 majors in 5 schools and 10 countries represented. The next class will be the largest and most diverse class.
“It was designed by us, for us, from the ground up,” Grimes said. “Who better than us?”
Jaclyn Ferguson (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and African American studies. She is the secretary of the National Association of Black Journalists at IU.