The few fraternities at the Claremont Colleges tend to be remembered by non-members only for their parties, characterized by the usual throbbing hip-hop. However, there is a little-known fraternity at the Claremont Colleges that has a more cultural focus. At its main party, the fraternity will be blasting Bollywood fusion through the speakers at Doms Lounge rather than Top 40.
This under-the-radar fraternity is the Brown Brotherhood, an assembly of South Asian male students bonded in their desire to “respect the Far East, represent the Far East and spread the love.”
Madhav Mehta PO ’12 founded the fraternity in 2009 as a way to connect the growing South Asian community and spread knowledge of South Asian culture across the 5Cs.
“The biggest issue I saw when I was a freshman was how all South Asians tended to clique together based on what cities they were from. Due to the Brown Brotherhood, those awkward barriers broke and we all became connected into one unified body,” said Jasheet Virk CM ’13, the current Brown Brotherhood president.
The Brown Brotherhood hosts parties that are open to all members and the rest of the Claremont community. The Brotherhood also helps sponsor events like the Sanskriti Dance Concert in order to promote South Asian culture at the 5Cs.
Unlike EKTA, the South Asian student association, or the 5C Hindu Society, which hosts the Diwali and Holi celebrations on campus, the Brown Brotherhood embraces the model of the classic fraternity rather than that of a club.
The preamble of the Brown Brotherhood’s constitution states, “We pledge to ASSIMILATE the American college fraternity tradition and DOMINATE it, so that we may successfully fight the cultural hegemony of the West and declare ourselves to be brown—metaphorically—with PRIDE.”
“As members of the club, we feel a very strong connection to our roots, especially for those students who did not grow up in the Indian sub-continent,” Brotherhood member Aaran Patel PO ’15 said.
The connection between the tradition of male fraternity and cultural awareness makes the Brown Brotherhood a unique group on campus.
First-years are invited to pledge the fraternity in the fall and spring, depending upon the pledges’ ability to speak a South Asian language. Fall rush will occur in the next few weeks.
Last year, the Brown Brotherhood had 34 brothers who helped support their frat by paying $60 in dues each semester. The fraternity provides a community and network for its members, while throwing “legendary events that attract around 600 students,” Mehta said.
The Brown Brotherhood hopes to throw quite a few “legendary” parties this year. In the past, the Brown Brotherhood has hosted many dorm parties and pre-games, with themes including “The Return of the Kings” and “Madhav on the Beach.” This spring, the Brotherhood plans to repeat its hit “Bombay Dreams,” a dance party at Doms Lounge with Punjabi house music.
The frat usually hosts two to three major parties throughout the year.
“It is these types of events, where people from all cultures get to experience the South Asian culture, that make me very happy with the direction that the Brown Brotherhood is going in,” Virk said.