NPHC events promote unity

Events included forums, stroll performances and a cooking competition.
Senior Jalisa Ray, Stephens College student Antiana Valentine and senior Karry Parren from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. perform "Alpha Step" during the Frat Attack strolling event Thursday at Conservation Auditorium. The National Pan-Hellenic Council also showed a movie screening Wednesday at Waters Auditorium.

The overarching theme of this year’s National Pan-Hellenic Council Week was “Divine Reinvention.” Members of the NPHC sororities and fraternities invited students from the community to participate in the events in an effort to achieve unity.

Through the theme of Divine Reinvention, NPHC organizations hoped to reintroduce themselves to the campus and establish a strong presence at MU, NPHC President Charles Ukatu said.

“The NPHC is the governing body over the Divine 9, which were the first fraternities and sororities to be predominantly African-American,” NPHC Secretary Antaniece Sills said. “It brings us together, and without it, we probably would never be in the same room.”

“Words to the Wise” on Monday provided an educational forum for students interested in Greek Life and outlined the “do’s and don’ts” of NPHC sororities and fraternities.

“A lot of people don’t know how to approach Greeks and don’t know the norms of interacting with Greeks,” Ukatu said. “We wanted to make people more knowledgeable about Greek life.”

An example of a norm addressed at the forum was not breaking stroll lines, a traditional formation unique to each chapter.

"The concept of the stroll line is rooted in history and times of slavery," Sills said. "During the slave trades, everyone was more than likely family. They didn't want to be separated. Breaking a stroll line is like attempting to break up a family. Staying together is important to us.”

The forum was met warmly with a lot of curiosity and questions toward the end, Ukatu said.

The NPHC held the “Reinvention of Unity” in the MU Student Center on Tuesday. Members of the NPHC got together in an attempt to bring back the sense of community among the black student population that once thrived in Brady Commons.

“The old Brady Commons was a place where black students could congregate freely to meet new people and to communicate about school and their social lives,” Ukatu said. “We want to bring that back to the student center and make it natural again. It was a vital part of African-American life at Mizzou that has left.”

The film “Higher Learning” was shown Wednesday night to focus on issues faced by black students on a predominantly white campus, Sills said.

“Some of the issues addressed in the movie were the stereotypes that African Americans can’t get ahead and have a slower learning rate than most Caucasians,” Sills said. “We want to promote awareness to become unified so we can look out for one another.”

NPHC sororities and fraternities switched roles to imitate each other’s unique strolls and steps in the “Frat Attack” event Thursday night. The performances were meant to eliminate stereotypes perceived within the organizations, Sills said.

“It’s interesting to see the commonalities between the (different sororities and fraternities),” NPHC Parliamentarian Jay Stevens said. “For instance, I didn’t know how precise the Alpha Kappa Alpha’s steps were. It helps us teach and learn about others within our community, and you realize how difficult and unique each stroll is.”

To mark the end of the week, the NPHC will hold an Iron Chef Competition on Friday. Each sorority and fraternity will cook its own dishes the student body will judge, Sills said.

NPHC members hope the Divine Reinvention events will initiate more community involvement by incorporating unity between the chapters.

“We are in the process of reinventing what it means to be Greek,” Ukatu said. “In past years, some of the Greeks within the NPHC have had trouble getting along. We want to not only move towards being brothers and sisters within the NPHC community, but on the campus as a whole. We don’t just want to be Kappas or Alphas -- we want to be bonded together as a community.”

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