Hugo Bryan Castillo
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Inc., with the help of University of La Verne’s Greek advisor Chip West, is on its way to being an established Greek-letter council with the establishment of two of its nine organizations: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
At most universities, there are three councils that Greek organizations fall into: the Inter Fraternity Council, for national social fraternities, the College Panhellenic Association, for national social sororities, and the Diversified Greek Council, for co-ed and academic fraternities.
The NPHC was founded at Howard University, a dominantly African-American university in Washington, D. C., on May 10, 1930. It is composed of nine International Greek-letter sororities and fraternities known as the Divine Nine: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. These are considered to be the first African-American Greek organizations in the country.
However, there are some differences that make the NPHC unique from the IFC or the CPA.
When it comes to recruitment, the NPHC is all about the quality of people they recruit, not the quantity. For most of these organizations, students who are interested in joining can only rush during their second semester sophomore year, unlike ULV where one could rush during their second semester freshman year.
“They believe strongly in education and the value of it,” West said.
NPHC organizations also have graduate chapters for graduate students and also have city-wide chapters (mostly because of low recruitment numbers).
Since the NPHC organizations are on their own distinct recruitment schedule and rules, and do not follow those which apply to IFC and CPA organizations, they do not have to start as a local organization then get colonized by a national organization here at ULV to be established (like Sigma Kappa and Phi Sigma Sigma). Because they are on their own system, these organizations unfortunately cannot participate in Greek Week, unless the present organizations at ULV grant them permission to.
Even though these organizations are dominantly African-American, they do not discriminate based on race or ethnicity when it comes to recruiting members.
“NPHC promotes interaction through forums, meetings and other mediums for the exchange on information and engages in cooperative programming and initiatives through various activities and functions,” said Sherry Brackens, who joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in spring 2000 at Cal Poly Pomona.
At the moment, Brackens is working with West to establish an Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter at ULV that will consist of two other campuses, Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona, with Brackens being their undergraduate advisor.
“Having Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. on the campus of La Verne and the other two campuses will benefit through the world,” Brackens said. “It is critical to have an association that cuts across racial, international, physical, and social barriers to help individuals and communities develop and maintain constructive relationships with others.”
Wilford Claiborne a 20-year-old, junior business administration major, joined Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in spring 2004 through the UC Riverside Sigma Eta chapter. He joined because he was looking for brotherhood and an organization to help in his community.
“There wasn’t any organization here at ULV that represented my community, the African-American community,” Claiborne said.
He also felt that the fraternities at ULV seemed fake and felt that Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. seemed true and was truly composed of “real gentlemen.”
On the other hand, there have been some issues with the possible establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. as a recognized organization on campus.
The biggest of them being recruitment numbers.
Will the establishment of these organizations affect recruitment numbers for the present organizations on campus?
“The reality is that it is not going to affect them because they’re completely different men and women,” West said.
West also feels that only positive affects can come from the establishment of such organizations.
“I can see only positive affects on ULV with the expansion of our Greek system,” he said.
Alexis Rampaul, CPA president and member of Phi Sigma Sigma sorority, said that the three present sororities’ (Sigma Kappa, Phi Sigma Sigma and Iota Delta) concerns with the effects on recruitment numbers because of the establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities are no more.
“There’s pros and cons about [the establishment of these organizations],” Rampaul said. “But the communication has been good and we welcome them.”
Rampaul also said that the establishment of these three Greek organizations is good because “it would knock off the balance: then there would be five sororities and four fraternities.”
West feels that with the establishment of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity chapters, more students will be motivated to participate in Greek life.
Of the three organizations, only Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta sororities have turned in their papers to become a recognized organization at ULV.
“I think Greek life is for everyone. You just need to find the one that best suits you,” West, a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, said.
For more information about ULV’s Greek life and its present organizations, contact the Student Center or Chip West at Ext. 4250. For information on NPHC organizations, visit their Web site at www.nphchq.org.
Hugo Bryan Castillo can be reached at email@example.com.