Collegiate Times
Septenber 17, 1993

Black Greeks Inducted into Council

by Heather McElrath

Virginia Tech's eight historically black fraternities and sororities will no longer be a part of the Interfraternity or the Panhellenic councils. Instead, they will be governed by the National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc.

"We have a council that is equal to the two," said Kim Gunter, Tech's NPHC vice president. According to the NPHC handbook, any school that has two or more historically black fraternities and sororities on its campus should form a council.

The eight fraternities and sororities that will comprise NPHC are: Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta and Sigma Gamma Rho.

Officers for the campus NPHC chapter wee chosen in May. However, an induction ceremony was postponed until Sunday so that preparations would no be rushed and national members of the NPHC could be present

Gunter will serve on the campus NPHC with president Robert Cobb Jr., secretary Cheryl Smith, parliamentarian Erik Saunders and treasurer Craig Bennett.

The campus council is composed of the executive board and one voting member who represents each fraternity or sorority.

Kim Bowie, advisor for NPHC, said the council will allow the fraternities and sororities to work together more closely and express more individuality.

There are differences between the IFC, PhC, and NPHC, but Bowie said there is a need to "bridge the gap between the IFC, PhC and NPHC with a basic understanding of the differences and similarities. The bottom line is that we are Greek. We need to support each other."

She also said the organizations have similar goals of community service and academic excellence a need for more individuality and identity (among the historically black fraternities and sororities)," Bowie said.

NPHC is different in that it governs only the eight fraternities and sororities that were formed in the early part of the 1900s. Between 1906 and 1922, the eight affiliate NPHC organizations were formed.

According to the NPHC handbook, the organizations began forming on "predominately white college campus so that black students and graduates could have a meaningful cultural interaction."

It also gave students and alumni the opportunity to work together to improve conditions of local communities.

"Each of these organizations evolved during a period when blacks were being denied essential rights and services afforded others," according to the handbook.

The members of the organizations worked together to address problems such as racism and sexism.

"In 1930 it was recognized that there was a need to form an umbrella organization that would provide coordination of philosophies and activities," according to the handbook. "This umbrella group, which became known as the NPHC, was formally organized in May 1930 at Howard University, Washington, D.C."

The eight organizations that make up the NPHC were established by 1937, and later that year the organization was incorporated in Illinois.

"The eight affiliate organizations have pledged to devote their collective resources and services in an effort to enhance communities throughout the nation and world," according to the handbook. "Despite the diversity inherent in the individual groups, the (NPHC) provides the forum and impetus for addressing items of mutual concern. The organizations soon discovered that both nationally and locally the effect of their educational, social and economic programs was greatly improved by uniting and coordination efforts through the (NPHC) and the local councils."

"(We are) few but very strong organizations," she said. "It's a life long commitment."

Members of NPHC would like to see a change in the perception that members of historically black fraternities and sororities are step show dancers and nothing else.

"Everyone in the community needs to know that black Greek members are more than step show dancers - we're bigger than that," Bowie said.

Gunter said "since we are a larger force on Tech campus we will have to make a greeter impact."

Bowie said the organizations hope to provide community service and academic enrichment to the community and all students at Tech.

The NPHC needs to "giv(e) back to the community - be it around the corner or around the world," Bowie said.

"People need to see the positive, the good we do," she said.

One of the problems Bowie sees is that the media "never talk about the positive things that (fraternities and sororities) do or produce."

One way Bowie would like to show the accomplishments of historically black Greek organizations is by bringing n speakers who have made it in life.

Bowie said she would also like to work with community students in elementary, junior and high schools.

She said it is important to show young black students in the community that college is a possibility because this area does not have a large black community and "no matter what, we are role models," she said.

"Sometimes, if you don't see it sometimes, you don't know that you can do it," Bowie said.