Editor’s Note – This article was updated to reflect the fact that Madrid Steele was spoken to in an interview, not an email.
The Kansas Divine Nine is looking to round out its board with the reinstatement of Sigma Gamma Rho fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and Iota Phi Beta fraternity at the University of Kansas.
The “Divine Nine” refers to the historically black Greek fraternities and sororities. Previously, all nine were fully represented at the University of Kansas on the National Panhellenic Council. Currently, six of the nine are on campus and each requires two members per chapter to be considered active.
Current campus organizations said they look forward to the new additions, as they will be able to foster a community not only for themselves but for the black students on campus as well.
Eric Heard, a junior member of Kappa Alpha Psi, is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Divine Nine.
“The Divine Nine feels like family, even when you do it for the first time, it immediately feels like family,” Heard said. “We are finally able to define our success.”
As of 2019, there were five of nine organizations on campus. In late 2020, the group added the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. Madrid Steele, a senior at the University of Ottawa spoke about recruiting and being part of the university without being on campus since the Omegas are a city chapter.
“I’m proud to be near a city that has my chapter,” Steele said. “It was great to have a community presence in the surrounding areas of Kansas City and it was an impactful experience.”
Hiring numbers are staggered at the University. According to National Panhellenic Council adviser Taylor Pullen, the three incoming organizations may not have the number of students they need to return.
“A lot of people might like to be a part of something,” Steele. “I think it all comes down to the students going out and experiencing this. It’s a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a community.”
Fraternities would welcome two new organizations, while sororities would have one new addition. Junior Dominique Loveless, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and National Pan-Hellenic Vice President of Programming, is thrilled to have all nine organizations on campus.
“It makes me feel like our sense of community, especially with the Greek audience, will be even stronger than it already is,” Loveless said. “We have a very close bond, so imagine how it grows when everyone gets here.”
All organizations are known for being competitive with one another, but this group feels more like family, Loveless said.
“We are actually very close. We have the utmost respect for each other, ”said Loveless.“ He Gave us a safe space here at [predominately white institution]. Finding other women of color and feeling at home and comfortable being myself.”
Heard said that although the group is a family, a competitive atmosphere is brewing.
“Like Nupe, it’s going to make me competitive,” Heard said. “Every organization will want to be better than the other, but that will make us better too.”
For students on campus, this is an opportunity to reintroduce Greek life. Junior Chandler Prater, a guard on the Kansas women’s basketball team, said she’s glad black Greeks are on campus.
“It gives me a chance to connect with a group of black students who are all part of a special culture that spans the globe,” Prater said. “I hope more student athletes become aware of that side of campus. Especially with black students making up such a small percentage of all KU students.
Whether Sigma Gamma Rho, Phi Beta Sigma, and Iota Phi Beta will be restored remains to be seen. Currently, the only obstacle for organizations is reaching the minimum number of members.