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Black fraternity Iota Phi Theta to launch at ULV

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Dominic Honoré
Staff Writer

Three years ago Sigma Gamma Rho became the first historically black sorority with a chapter on campus. Soon Iota Phi Theta will likely be the University’s first historically black fraternity. 

Gracyn Brown, vice president of La Verne’s Tau Nu Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho expressed the value in having more historically black organizations on campus. 

“It’s important to have more Divine Nine organizations here on campus because it’s important for black students to have a space to feel more comfortable in their blackness,” said Brown, a senior criminology major.

Divine Nine refers to the nine historically black Greek letter organizations, of which there are four sororities and five fraternities. 

Richard Johnson, regional polaris, or president, for Iota Phi Theta’s Far West Region, described the fraternity’s potential and what it has to offer the University. 

“The most important thing for us is to bring diversity … to the campus because there isn’t a historically black fraternity already at La Verne,” Johnson said. “It gives us the opportunity to break down barriers and stereotypes between races within all campus organizations.”

University of La Verne graduate student and Iota member Derrick Nubia said he is ecstatic to bring another form of brotherhood to this campus. 

“Iota Phi Theta (will) bridge the gap not only amongst men of color but between all men in general through education and shared experiences,” Nubia said. “We can be of different races and still become one brotherhood.”

The organization is set to present its vision for chartering on campus in front of a panel of University administrators and faculty on April 23, Johnson said.

Adam Wong, director of student life, and Ruby Montaño-Cordova, deputy chief student affairs officer, are overseeing this process alongside Johnson.

“It’s been a slow process because of other things that have come up but we are looking forward to forming a mutually beneficial relationship,” Wong said.

Founded in 1963 on the Morgan State College campus – now Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland – Iota Phi Theta was the last of the Divine Nine organizations to be established.

The first historically black fraternity was Alpha Phi Alpha, which was incorporated on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University.

The first black sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, was founded January 15, 1908 at Howard University.

All nine organizations united to form the National Pan-Hellenic Council, which they founded on May 10, 1930 at Howard University.

Like the other Greek organizations, Iota Phi Theta holds a set a values and principles that they live by.

Known as the “Five Stars,” Iota Phi Theta’s set of principles include scholarship, leadership, citizenship, fidelity and brotherhood.

These principles coincide with their motto, “Building a Tradition, Not Resting Upon One.”

The first ever Iota Chapter to be chartered in California was Alpha Chi at San Francisco State University in 1983.

The closest chapter to La Verne is the Theta Gamma Chapter at Cal State San Bernardino, about 30 miles away from the ULV campus.

Dominic Honoré can be reached at

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