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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Meet the Greeks

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An audience member films the Kappa Alpha Psi “shimmy” (Photos by Matt Barrett ’21).

City-wide chapters present their history and traditions

Meet the Greeks, an event showcasing the city-wide fraternity and sorority chapters at St. Joe’s, was hosted by the Black Student Union on Sept. 28.

During the event, the city-wide chapters affiliated with St. Joe’s presented their culture and history as a way of engaging potential new members and educating the campus community.  

“It’s a way for our campus to network with our city-wide chapters and a way for our students to gain exposure to these historically cultural and diverse organizations,” Nicole Morse, assistant director of Student Leadership and Activities, said.

The city-wide chapters are part of a collective group of culturally-based Greek organizations called the “Divine Nine.” Four of these chapters have an affiliation with St. Joe’s: Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated.

What sets the Divine Nine apart from the rest of Greek life is their expansive status. These fraternities and sororities are affiliated with different campuses throughout the Philadelphia area, giving them the city-wide title.

Meet the Greeks, an annual event that started three years ago at St. Joe’s, offers the chapters an opportunity to present themselves in different ways. Each chapter had a table set up in the Perch with a display of their artifacts, or items that represent their chapter.

For the main event, the chapters performed what is called a stomp or stroll, which is a combination of dancing, chanting, call, repeat songs and hand motions. These memorized performances have been passed down through the organizations’ history and personalized for each individual chapter.

“They’ve found really unique ways to continue those traditions and make them relevant inside their organizations,” Morse said. “It’s a way for them to celebrate that history in a modern fashion.”

The first chapter to introduce themselves was Alpha Phi Alpha, the first of the Divine Nine founded in 1906. Alpha Phi Alpha is present on seven campuses in the Philadelphia area and its city charter will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020.

Ajibola Bodunrin, the historian of the city charter and a student at the University of Pennsylvania, said that being a city-wide chapter is a unique learning experience.

“Every campus has its own vibe in how it operates,” Bodunrin said. “With the students you meet at UPenn or the students you meet at St. Joe’s or at Villanova, some things are similar, some things are different. You have to really pay attention and make connections at each school.”

Bodunrin said that events like Meet the Greeks, where they can meet new people and present their history through their traditional chant and dance, is a great way to promote the organization throughout Philadelphia.

The sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha perform a rap of their history.

Alpha Kappa Alpha, in their distinctive salmon pink and apple green, took the stage next to perform a song detailing the sorority’s history and a synchronized step routine.

This sorority pioneered the entrance of women into the Divine Nine with its founding in 1908.

“There was a need for African-American sororities in the first place,” said Lyndsi Powell, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority president and student at the University of Pennsylvania. “After the Alphas were founded, we found that there was a need for a female equivalent. To this day, we try to strive to make sure that African-American women have a place and have some support.”

The sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha provide this support through programs held at their five campuses that focus on women’s health, education, literacy and other important topics in the community.

Next to introduce themselves were the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, which is a chapter not yet affiliated with St. Joe’s. They attended Meet the Greeks as a way to build a relationship that may eventually lead to official affiliation.

Members of Kappa Alpha Psi use canes during their stomp routine.

Kappa Alpha Psi President Aaron Gardner, a student at Villanova University, said travelling to a different campus for an event like Meet the Greeks is part of the routine.

“We end up at so many different campuses meeting so many different people, so it’s become pretty regular,” Gardner said. “But when we first did this, it was pretty eye-opening being at a different campus and having people that actually looked up to the organization and wanted to have a fresh take on it.”

The city-wide nature of the organizations can also be a challenge for the individual chapters.

According to Morse, the chapters need to follow the rules and regulations of each campus that falls under their charter.

“It definitely becomes hard to communicate at times because everyone is on a different schedule,” Gardner said. “All the schools operate differently, but we still have to operate the same amongst our line.”

Despite the difficulties in communication, the values and traditions, like their chant, stomp and famous “Kappa shimmy” hold the group together across the different schools.

“All of the brothers of Kappa Alpha Psi throughout Philadelphia are all pretty well-connected,” Gardner said. “We all know each other.”

The members of Omega Psi Phi, founded in 1911, expressed a similar idea in that their core value is “friendship is essential to the soul.”

“Going to any school, it’s like family when you go there,” said Henry Williams, chaplain and student of Drexel University. “You’re always welcome.”

Julian Griffith, an alum of Omega Psi Phi at Millersville University, emphasized the importance of Meet the Greeks.

“We travel and we’re big supporters of other chapters in our area,” Griffith said. “When we come together, we always look out for one another.”

The brothers performed a song, stomp and chant routine and breakdancing to present their history.

Delta Sigma Theta ended the night with a rap of their history and values of sisterhood, service and scholarship as part of their step routine.

While Meet the Greeks events are important for the growth of the chapter, Delta Sigma President Jasmine Jones of Drexel University said that the sorority involves much more than recruitment.

“We do programs all throughout the year,” Jones said. “Not only do we have collegiate chapters, but the thing about Delta Sigma Theta is that membership in our sorority is a lifetime commitment.”

Aside from providing an opportunity for the chapters to gain membership, Meet the Greeks is an important event for promoting visibility of underrepresented groups on campus, according to Imani Briscoe ’17, program coordinator for the Center of Inclusion and Diversity.

“I’m happy that our current students are able to put this together because representation does matter,” Briscoe said.

Offering representation is one of the main goals of the organizations, especially for the Philadelphia charters.

“We try to get out there to the community because we are such an underrepresented community,” Powell said. “Philadelphia is one city, but it doesn’t have one story.”

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