Last week, the “Divine Nine” of APSU’s National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) held events to promote their respective organizations. Each of the NPHC’s have not only a rich history but many notable figures who helped make that history possible. Some famous members include Martin Luther King Jr. (Alpha Phi Alpha), Maya Angelou (Alpha Kappa Alpha) and Aretha Franklin (Delta Sigma Theta).
This night and the ensuing week were a deviation from normal practices. Typically, each organization would have their own week to host events for potential members to attend. However, this year the nine chapters at APSU would host a unified week advertising their organization. At the helm was Dereka Jones, NPHC president, and Lamarkus Day the director of programming. From what was the first night of string events, there was no nervousness from these two. They were laughing and did not break a sweat as they finished up last details and prepared the ballroom. This night was the informational night for each chapter to tell prospective members about their organization’s history, philanthropy and values.
At a historically white university, NPHC organizations provide a place where people of color to gather with like-minded individuals of similar backgrounds. Jones notes that the smaller size of the community and the cohesive nature of the men’s and women’s organization. Both Day and Jones note that the tight-knit community gives them a platform to discuss issues that impact their daily lives. The large group of interested new members split into separate rooms so members could learn about the respective men’s and women’s groups. Each organization took turns explaining their history as well as their philanthropic endeavors. Some of these included voter registrations, the Boys and Girls Club and raising awareness for Sickle Cell Anemia.
Not only do the NPHC organizations provide an opportunity for undergraduates, they also have graduate chapters in which members of the community can join. They serve as advisors to the undergraduate chapter. Victoria Sutherland is a member of the Rho Mu Graduate Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta. She explained that many who do not join an NPHC during their undergraduate years often join the graduate chapter to give back and get involved. While most graduate and undergraduate chapters remain historically black, she makes note of the increasing diversity within their membership.
For more information on the National Pan-Hellenic Council and their chapters at APSU, you can contact Stephen Dominy at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority life.