The Digital Journalism Blog

African American Greek Membership Increasing Steadily

Posted in Uncategorized by com360bu on May 10, 2011

The stepping, calls and colors only scratch the surface of what African American Greek organizations are all about. There are currently eight on Bradley University’s campus and each organization is very big on community service and high scholastic achievement. Jesse Koch tells readers why these organizations are doing something that the other Greek councils can learn from. There is also a timeline to learn more about these organizations and video links to watch their stepping* and strolling*.

*definition terms are provided below

The number of students joining African American fraternities and sororities at Bradley University has increased over the last year. Where there were once only a maximum of seven members in an organization, the current number is at 51 with the numbers expected to increase over the years.

African American fraternities and sororities were founded during a time of strife and racial tension that was common in the early 1900s and mid-1960s. There are nine organizations that are in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), 5 fraternities and 4 sororities. All of the Divine Nine organizations are represented at Bradley University except for Iota Phi Theta fraternity, Incorporated.

Although their colors, calls and mottos differentiate them from one another, Associate Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Jesse Koch says that their emphasis on lifelong membership is one thing that they do have in common.

“The organizations make sure to instill the fact that joining a black Greek organization is a lifetime commitment,” said Koch.

The lifelong commitment is a common thread that holds them together and unites them under the National Pan-Hellenic Council which was chartered in 1930 by Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternities, and Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta Sororities, according to the National Pan-Hellenic Council national website. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority joined in 1931 and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity joined in 1997, which completed the ‘Divine Nine’.

These organizations have been at the Bradley Universitycampus for over 30 years. In order to join one of the Divine Nine organizations students must have a minimum grade point average of a 2.5 and have at least 24 credit hours.

Sororities and fraternities are social groups, some of which do activities to help various charities raise money.

All of the organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council have numerous chapter and national initiatives that they do throughout the year in order to continue their organization founders’ commitment to community service and high scholastic achievement.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated member, Erin Bell, spends her time raising supplies for local schools through her organization’s annual campus event, “Operation Big Book Bag” in which the sorority encourages theBradleyUniversitycommunity to donate used and un-used school supplies for the local schools in thePeoriaarea.

“In 2009 we hosted a picnic and invited the Children’s Home inPeoriato bring the kids. We donated book bags and had water balloon fights and other fun activities for the children to enjoy,” saidBell.

In the fraternal organizations Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated has had in the past a sexual awareness social and a March for Babies fundraiser in which funds were raised by hosting a bowling night.

Other organizations such as Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated has had bake sales and group exercise nights in which students could participate in PiYo, a form of Pilates and Yoga, or Zumba, an intense dance workout.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. also has annual events such as the Just Us Girls event that the Bradley female population can attend and participate in games, and other activities in order to get to know one another better.

Despite the numerous activities that they sponsor on and off the campus, many students, current and prospective, are hesitant to join due to stereotypes and the belief that hazing is a common occurrence. However, Koch says that each organization has strict policies against hazing activity and a person should make the best choice for them.

“Hazing is a cause for concern, but it is up to them [the student] to join and dispel the stereotype,” said Koch.

All of the Divine Nine organizations have a strict policy against hazing.

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s hazing policy clearly expresses that “all acts of hazing or harassment, both physical and mental, shall be expressly prohibited,” according to their national website.

Similar policies can be found on each organizations national website.

There are also more than 40 states, including Illinois, that have anti-hazing laws to prevent these types of things from taking place.

In 2009 fraternity Phi Beta Sigma at PrairieView A&M University, inTexas, allegedly caused the death of a prospective member during an early morning workout on at a local high school. The fraternity’s Delta Theta chapter has been officially disbanded until 2013 and the national organization is a facing lawsuit of $97 million, according to DallasNews.

Although hazing is a concern, so is the price which is not disclosed to prospective members. In an organization under the Interfraternity Council and Pan-Hellenic Council prices range from $500-875 for new members and $335-500 for active members. Prices change once that person is officially a member.

But, Bell says the price is bearable. “It’s just like any other organization on the Bradley University campus,” she said.

The organizations on Bradley’s campus have gone through numerous setbacks, one being parties, in which they are often treated differently by the university.

But Koch says that an agreement has been made by all parties in order to have a “good, safe party.”

With parties being a major source of income the organizations have been receiving full access to the Student Activity Budget Review (SABRC) and in the past Koch had been personally helping organizations with their proposals. He even says Nathan Thomas who is the Executive Director of Residential Living and Leadership, and Dr. Galsky, Vice-President of Student Affairs, sent three NPHC members to a leadership conference with funds from their budget.

With increasing interest in African American Greek organizations Koch believes that the other two Greek life organizations can learn one important lesson from their National Pan-Hellenic Council Greek family.

“BGLOs are very good at their level of service, and does an amazing job at getting into the community and helping out,” Koch said.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Epsilon Kappa Chapter at Bradley University Back to School Block Party Fall 2K10

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Iota Kappa Chapter ;BU’s Back to School Block Party Step and Stroll Fall2K10

This is the NPHC stepshow at Bradley University that took place in the Fall of 2007

To see the following videos visit this Facebook page (or click the link): Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Zeta Phi Chapter: Switch Step Show. They are imitating the members of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Iota Kappa chapter.

Members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority imitating the member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at the Bradley University Switch Step show.

Interactive component:

Greek Letter Organizations Interactive Component Content:

If this component was interactive readers would be able to scroll through the timeline and the following information would come up. There will also be pictures of famous members that readers will be able to click on to learn more about that person.

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc

Chapter Name: Epsilon Kappa Chapter

National Founding Date: December 4, 1906

Chapter Charter Date: December 16, 1961

Public Motto: First of All, Servants of All, We Shall Transcend all.

Colors: Black and Old Gold

Symbols: Great Spinx of Giza

Flower: Yellow Rose


Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Epsilon Eta

National Founding:  January 15, 1908 at Howard University

Chapter Charter:  December 14, 1968

Public Motto:  “By Culture and by Merit.”

Colors:  Salmon Pink & Apple Green

Symbol:  Ivy Leaf

Flower:  Pink Tea Rose

Website: www.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Iota Kappa

Founding:  January 5, 1911 at Indiana University

Chapter Charter:  October 1, 1978

Public Motto:  “Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor.”

Colors:  Crimson & Cream

Symbol:  K within a 4 point Diamond (Kappa Diamond)

Flower:  Red Carnation


Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Xi Epsilon

National Founding:  November 17, 1911 at Howard University

Chapter Charter:  1957

Public Motto:  “Friendship is Essential to the Soul.”

Colors:  Royal Purple & Old Gold

Symbol:  Lamp

Flower:  African Violet


Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Theta Epsilon

National Founding:  January 13, 1913 at Howard University

Chapter Charter:  February 13, 1971

Public Motto:  “Intelligence is the Torch of Wisdom.”

Colors:  Crimson & Cream

Symbol:  Fortitude

Flower:  African Violet


Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Zeta Mu

National Founding:  January 9, 1914 at Howard University

Chapter Charter:  August 21, 1974

Public Motto:  “Culture for Service and Service for Humanity.”

Colors:  Royal Blue & Pure White

Symbol:  Dove

Flower:  White Carnation


Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Phi Delta

National Founding:  January 16,  1920 at Howard University

Chapter Charter:  May 6, 1973

Public Motto:  “A Community-Conscious Action-Orientated Organization.”

Colors:  Royal Blue & Pure White

Symbol:  White Cat & White Dove

Flower:  White Rose


Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.

Chapter Name:  Zeta Phi

National Founding:  November 12, 1922 at Butler University

Chapter Charter:  February 2, 1974

Public Motto:  “Greater Service, Greater Progress.”

Colors:  Royal Blue & Antique Gold

Symbol:  French Toy Poodle

Flower:  Yellow Tea Rose


Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.

Founded: September 13, 1963 at Morgan State University


Public Motto: “Building A Tradition, Not Resting Upon One!”

Colors: Charcoal Brown & Gilded Gold

Symbol: Centaur

Flower: Yellow Rose

Information Courtesy of: Bradley NPHC


 Also Terms You Should Know:


Stepping or step-dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps

Stroll: A line dance done by members of cultural greek organizations (usually at a party or step show)

Call/Chant: A vocal sound (sometimes high-pitched) used by members of

cultural based greek organizations to acknowledge one another

Crossed: The actual date of initiation into a cultural greek organization. The

term is used to represent the symbolic “crossing of the burning sands”

Initiation: the traditional ritual, which brings the new member into full


Legacy: a prospective member who has a family member in the same fraternity or sorority

Line: The members of a cultural greek organization new member class

National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC): the representative body governing national historically black Greek organizations

Neophyte: A new member of a cultural greek organization


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