Are students joining fraternities and sororities for the wrong reasons?



After two years of working as a reporter and editor, Kendal Manns, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, will take over as the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of The Hornet Tribune, the oldest Black college newspaper in the nation. His term began on May 1, 2022.

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

When Divine Nine fraternities were first established with the advent of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity in 1906, the purpose for membership was for scholarship, social purpose and commitment to community service. Unfortunately, today, some students are joining these organizations solely for the strolling, parties, paraphernalia and status that comes with them, not the legacy and opportunities to create change.
With the current generation, I believe many of these things are put to the forefront and are the first things people think of when they think of Greek life. It can create a culture focused more on the clout of being affiliated with these organizations rather than their power and historical impact. With the loss of the true values of these fraternities and sororities the organizations themselves could lose their impact.
These organizations were created in response to Black people being barred from membership to the highly exclusive previously established white organizations. That history should be at the forefront of the mindset of students, not the clout of wearing Greek letters. It is a privilege, the same way education and so many other things we take for granted are.
The Divine Nine organizations were also purposed with educating and uplifting the Black community, which was and still is facing many racial inequities. Members played key roles in major movements in the Black community like the Women’s Suffrage, Civil Rights Movement and Black Lives Matter. Their role in the Black community should not be understated. Being a part of these organizations should carry that same weight of change for everyone.
In “The Fire Next Time,” noted Black activist, author, comedian and entrepreneur Dick Gregory explained the importance of these organizations to students and faculty at Grambling State University. “I wonder how long you Black fraternities and sororities will continue to underestimate your real power,” he said.
When you are presented with a concept and not given the right instruction of how things are supposed to be, you can lose sight of the real purpose. I believe this is similar to how some students are told there is a limit on how successful they can be early on and it affects their way of thinking the rest of their lives. Just because many people associate Divine Nine organizations with just strolling, paraphernalia and other stereotypes does not mean that that is all they can be.
Divine Nine organizations offer students a rich opportunity to be a part of storied tradition. With the right mindset the members of these organizations can bring about so much change, as seen with the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and their tremendous support for current vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris.
She received support from her sisters all around the country, especially during her campaign season. Being a part of the sorority allowed her to hone her leadership skills and become who she is today. While pledging, she had to work under pressure and solve problems like choreographing a Black History Month program last minute. The skills she learned in her journey through a Divine Nine organization has been invaluable to her success.
Harris is just one of many famous names affiliated with Divine Nine organizations. Zora Neale Hurston, Thurgood Marshall, Michael Jordan, Phylicia Rashad, Steve Harvey and so many more have dedicated their lives to one of the nine organizations. All of them are prideful about their organization and have learned valuable lessons because of them. That sense of pride and pursuit of making a difference is what should be at the center of a student’s mind when deciding to pledge.
Instead of caring solely about the status or the opportunities being affiliated with Greek culture can do for you, consider the impact you can have on the Black community through community service. So much change can come from Black people’s involvement in these organizations that will last long after they are gone. That is the true purpose of these organizations, to be beacons of light to the community when the world tells them they are less than.
I believe if these organizations are going to be a staple of the Black community, they should be filled with those that are going to respect those that came before and focus on the continuous growth of these organizations. The ones that join for the clout or just to say they are affiliated need to be challenged to do more. Those letters come with so much history, and it would be a shame for them to be wasted on those that do not care about their true impact and meaning.