Claudia Brunson: news editor
A major and important component to a socially excelled and connected student life at Millsaps College is made possible through the assistance of Greek fraternities and sororities. Many students are members of a part of a sorority or fraternity—the statistical majority, in fact. Millsaps college offers many Greek organizations that students can select from, including order Kappa Alpha, Epsilon Alpha Sigma, Delta Delta, and Kappa Delta Inc., just to name a few. However, if one were to take a closer look at, and see the different Greek houses that do exist it is evident that not a single Divine Nine Greek house exists on campus.
The importance of Greek Life is to help students grow, make friends all while making connections to other chapters in that same sorority or fraternity.
“I think that that Greek life and membership in a sorority or fraternity provides connections,” says Megan James, Assistant Dean of Students for Campus. “Life connection to peers, connection to alumni. It provides a social network, and social opportunities”
But what if an African- American student were to be interested in pledging at Millsaps College? What are his or her options if that particular person wanted to join a historically black sorority or fraternity? The Divine Nine is made up of nine historically black sororities and fraternities—five fraternities and four sororities. The fraternities part of the Divine Nine National Pan- Hellenic Council are Alpha Phi Alpha Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Inc., Omega Psi Phi Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Inc., and lastly Iota Phi Theta Inc. The sororities that are represented in the Divine Nine are Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Inc., and Sigma Gamma Rho Inc.
Opinions at Millsaps are mixed. Meagan Joseph, a senior biology major, said she believes Millsaps provides on-campus organizations based on the things students are vocal about.
“I think that Millsaps College caters its types of organizations that it offers depending on the makeup of the student population,” Joseph said. “So, my hope is that we do not have one of the Divine Nines (historically black sororities or fraternities) because the need has not been made evident on behalf of the students.”
Although a Divine Nine house does not exist on campus, Millsaps has hosted on campus and recognized some of the Divine Nine Greeks groups in the past. According to James, Millsaps has recognized Delta Sigma Theta, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Alpha Kappa Alpha. However, due to hazing violations by Alpha Kappa Alpha, the line has been suspended until the spring semester of 2016. Both Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi have not been able to recruit enough men to start and sustain a chapter on campus. Omega Psi Phi was granted permission in 2009 to recruit potential members but there failed to be to minimum amount of required students to begin a chapter and due to lack of membership, Delta Sigma Theta decided to retire its chapter (Rho Tau).
Susannah Burrell, a member of Delta Delta Delta enjoys being in a sorority because of the sisterhood that comes with belonging to that chapter and also being around a great group of young women. But when asked, she was unaware of what exactly the Divine Nine was.
“No [I do not know what Divine Nine is],” Burrell said. “I think it would be wonderful if a historically black sorority or fraternity was started on campus, but I hope that all students feel welcome in the existing sororities and fraternities.”
Jonah Zeller, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha, feels the reason behind Millsaps lack of Divine Nine is due to diversity—or lack there of– in the school.
“I feel like it is an issue of diversity but black students are more than welcome to join any fraternity,” Zeller said. “It’s just as issue of diversity within the school itself and if their needs to be an all black fraternity on campus then they need to fix it. There needs to be a larger amount of students to come to Millsaps so that those opportunities can be met.”
Joseph said that Millsaps should openly communicate about the types of organizations the students would like to see on campus.
“I think that Millsaps should assist students in every way to bring anything that they would like to see on campus,” Joseph said. “And so I think that if students want to see historically black sororities or fraternities on campus then they should make those efforts to involve faculty and kind of get that ball rolling to get those sororities or fraternities on campus. And that is not to say I do not know if any efforts have been made but there have been students wanting to have historically black sororities on campus so I say find a faculty member to support you and go about it that way.”
The decision and effort to bring Divine Nine sororities and fraternities to campus is something that is ongoing and not forgotten. The possibility of Millsaps College potentially seeing a permanent historically black sorority or fraternity could very well come true.
“I think anything is always open when it comes to the student experience,” James said. “Out of the nine we have had five have either an active chapter or interest here. I certainly am devoted to continuing that conversation and so that people can have the opportunity to have those chapters active.”