Alpha Kappa Lambda (ΑΚΛ) is an American collegiate social fraternity founded at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1914. Today, it operates approximately 42 active chapters and colonies and has approximately 28,000 initiated members.
Alpha Kappa Lambda was founded on April 22, 1914 by a group of young men attending the University of California, Berkeley. Its birth, however, dates back to 1906 when a group of friends discussed the "need of Christian men for a place to live and study that was within their (financial) means."
After assisting in the cleanup of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, four students re-addressed their desire to organize a house club during a YMCA conference in Pacific Grove, California. They decided to form "Los Amigos" in 1907, a house club named from the Spanish translation of "The Friends." Shortly after, seven more men joined Los Amigos. Reverend Gail Cleland, one of the original eleven members of Los Amigos, recalled, "when we organized Los Amigos as a house club...house clubs and fraternities were dime a dozen. They came, they lived for a few months or a few years, then they went out of existence again. But Los Amigos did not go out of existence."
He continues, "and seven years later...in response to the suggestion of Benjamin Ide Wheeler, president of the University of California, we organized our house club as a national fraternity of one chapter."
The founders of Los Amigos were a diverse group, but they shared a common desire for studious living in a college environment and continued integrity after their formal education concluded.
Alpha Kappa Lambda's cornerstone is its "five Ideals":
Alpha Kappa Lambda teaches men that the commitments outlined in the Fraternity's Ritual are not merely remote ideals, but areas of discipline for daily life. ΑΚΛs support, and in turn have the support of, their brothers in living these principles. Through Alpha Kappa Lambda, men with different backgrounds but similar ideals unite with a common purpose: to foster excellence in scholarship, leadership, individual growth, and involvement in community service. ΑΚΛ is dedicated to Men of Character, Committed to Making A Difference.
The motto of the fraternity is "Alítheia Kai Logos," which in Classical Greek means "The Truth and the Word". Former National President William B. Herms explains, "The motto is a symbolic statement of our Ideals. We are seekers after Truth, the highest Truth... and the Word, which again lends itself to interpretation."
The official badge of the fraternity is made of ten carat gold. An alpha and a lambda rest in the background (covered with the flowers of a dogwood, representing Christian principles) and the Kappa is raised, set with eleven whole pearls. The pearls represent the eleven founders of the Los Amigos Club. The badge is to be worn only on collared shirts, sweaters, or suit vests, and in the traditional position over the heart. It may only be worn by initiated members of the fraternity.
Alpha Kappa Lambda realizes that sexual assault is a serious problem on college campuses and believes that it can be fought through education, service, and philanthropic projects. The philanthropic fundraising aspect is the most visible of the three. The fundraising is performed via a "Promise Wall" displayed prominently in a high traffic area of campus. Students, faculty, and members of the community are asked to add their "hand" to the Promise Wall for a contribution of $1. By placing their "hand" on the wall they make a promise that their hand will not be used to harm others. These Hands Don't Hurt was started in ΑΚΛ by the Beta Zeta Chapter (East Tennessee State University) in 1995. In the spirit of "growing the movement" Alpha Kappa Lambda has allowed other student organizations from around the country to use the program as a way to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The fraternity adopted cystic fibrosis as a national philanthropy at the 1990 National Conclave. Chapters support the fight against cystic fibrosis in many ways. Chapter fundraisers provide financial support to local organizations, research, and individuals. Chapters provide manpower to help local organizations' events. Members can have holiday or birthday parties for children suffering from CF. There are countless ways to touch the lives of CF sufferers and their families.
The Adopt-A-School program was endorsed by the National Executive Council during their 1994 Winter meeting. The goal of the program is to provide for the formation of one-on-one relationships between local college students and local elementary students. This program provides an opportunity for college students to give something back to their host communities while devoting time and energy to being a role model for children.