Phi Iota Alpha history can be traced to the development of the
Union Hispano-Americana (UHA) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
in the late 1800s. UHA was inspired by the work of five great Latin
American leaders, today known by the fraternity as "The Pillars."
UHA was finalized in 1898 and its main goal was to provide a cultural
environment for students from Latin America and Spain. This was
the first official association of Latin American students established
in the United States.
In 1916, Pi Delta Phi fraternity was founded in Massachusetts Institute
of Technology with similar goals and interests as UHA. In 1918,
Pi Delta Phi decided to expand among various American Universities.
To accomplish this goal, it established communications with Phi
Lambda Alpha, a fraternity with a similar vision located at the
University of South California. Subsequently, these two organizations
and the UHA united in June 1921 under the name of Phi Lambda Alpha.
During this time, Sigma Iota Fraternity or "La Sigma"
was working to establish itself in universities across the southern
United States. Sigma Iota was started in 1904 as Sociedad Hispano
Americana at Louisiana State University and strove to assist fellow
Latin American students academically.
In 1925, very important negotiations began between "La Sigma"
and Phi Lambda Alpha. History was made when these two organizations
unified in December 26,1931 and became Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity
Inc., with chapters in the United States, Latin America, and Europe.
In June 1932, the organizational system of Phi Iota Alpha was improved
and the "Union Latino Americana" was introduced. Under
the ULA system, each one of the Latin American countries constituted
a zone of the union. Phi Iota Alpha constituted the zone for the
United States. By 1938, there were active zones in Puerto Rico,
Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, and Belgium. Unfortunately, World War II
interrupted the activities of UHA causing many chapters and zones
to deteriorate. In 1945, the activities resumed and active zones
were organized in Peru and Chile. The 60s proved to be a troubling
time for Phi Iota Alpha because of the "me" generation
and the Vietnam War.
Undergraduate activity was low among Phi Iota Alpha and other Greek
organizations. The last active chapter of Phi Iota Alpha closed
its doors at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in 1973. However,
the graduate members continued the pursuit of obtaining successful
careers and made a point of maintaining communication and pursuing
the development of Phi I A. Interest in Phi Iota Alpha was renewed
in 1984 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In April 1984, the
re-founders held the first organizational meeting regarding the
Latino concerns fraternity. By the end of the year, Phi Iota Alpha's
2nd generation was born. Since then, Phi Iota Alpha has re-founded
chapters and started new chapters, with the hopes of expanding the
richness of Latino culture across the nation