DIVINE 9’s SPEAK OUT: Historically black Greek organizations weigh in on Greek pause

Guethshina Altena/Assistant News Director

Members of the University’s “Divine 9” greek organizations have mixed feelings about the University’s decision to pause all Greek life until February, with some saying it affects their Black History Month preparations.

Referred to as the “Divine 9’s,” The National Pan-Hellenic Council, Incorporated is made up of nine International Greek letter sororities and fraternities and are historically black organizations nationwide. FIU has seven out of the nine organizations.

Some leaders from the Divine 9 organizations raised their concern during the first workshop for the Greek culture change on Tuesday, Jan. 9, about the University decision to bring about the same culture change in all councils no matter their differences.

“Why is this being dealt with a blanket solution instead of dealing with each chapter specifically or even each council,” a student in the workshop said.

Other students also voiced their disagreement with the current pause of greek activities especially as the preparations for Black History Month were approaching.

Skartz Pierre is a junior biology major and a brother of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. Being part of this fraternity, he said, has given him the opportunity to learn “valuable life lessons” which is why he disagrees with the University’s pause on all Greek life.

“As far as the University pausing greek life, I was really disappointed to hear that,” Pierre said.

Pierre believes that the pause did in some way affect the usual greek preparations for Black History Month through events and activities.

“I feel like like those in good standing should not be punished because of one mess up or one party caught doing wrong,” Pierre said.

Anthony DeSantis is the assistant vice president for Student Affairs at the Biscayne Bay campus. The University, he said, recognizes that each Greek organization is different.

“In every chapter, you find a group of values and beliefs and that’s what’s unique about all of us, that is what we celebrate,“  DeSantis said.

But there are reasons as to why the University paused all Greek life until February, he said and encouraged greek leaders not to “point the finger” at each other’s organizations but to move forward together.

“If you look at the report, I think 18 of the 37 greek organizations are on some type of suspension, probation across the board,” DeSantis said. “A lot of our NPHC, MGC  [Multicultural Greek Councils] organizations are on academic probation.

Pierre, however, said that he feels that in order to get a united change, all greek fraternities and sororities should hold themselves up to a higher standard.

“Being a part of a historically black Greek organization makes me proud due to the fact that there was a significant amount of influential black figures that were affiliated with the divine nine,” Pierre said.

But DeSantis said if we look at the community as a whole going back five years, every organization in every council has had concerns.

“From hazing, to alcohol to grades, it is a [greek] community-wide concern, this past semester it just happened to be our IFC [Interfraternity Council],” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the University has been transparent to possible recruits and parents concerning past incidents that each chapter has encountered during their time at the University. Such information can be found on their Student Affairs website.

Kayla Little is a junior majoring in architecture and a sister of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated (ΣΓΡ) Omicron Theta Chapter (ΟΘ) at FIU.

“We [as an organization]  also strongly believe in education, especially with the youth. Whether that is educating them in regards to academics, or to life choices, the youth are our next generations, therefore educating them is extremely important and crucial toward the progress we aim for in the world, now and in the future.” Little said.

She said Black History month is to not only to educate ourselves on black history, but to recognize all the great things that have been accomplished in black culture.

Little believe that NPHC is different than other Greek orgs historically. She said they were founded during times of turmoil for black people in the US, therefore they have different perspectives and views on how we go about things.

“For example, the way in which we recruit new members, the fact that we stroll and step, and some of us even carry and perform with certain items because of our history. However, as to addressing NPHC differently than other orgs, initially, I know I thought like this, but it wouldn’t help,” She said

She said it’s because there’s a need for more transparency between the Greeks and the administration.

“What is being heard or said from spectators isn’t always what is happening, and it can be hard to believe what is true when so much is going on. If we were better communicated on situations, while they were occurring, we would have more of an understanding and wouldn’t think like that,” Little said

Little says that the events that led to the FIU Greek pause, unfortunately has happen before.

“Initially, my thoughts toward the Greek pause on campus was confusion and annoyance. Now I have a better understanding of why FIU decided to put this into action and what the school wanted as a result of it. “ She said

She said understanding [these concerning behaviors were recurring before]  first shows that the actions that have been made or that have been put in place aren’t working.

“I believe FIU is trying to give all Greeks a chance to take a timeout and reevaluate the aspects of themselves and their respective orgs. In regards to black history month, I hadn’t even thought about the pause being prior to it,” Little said  “I do see the negative effects of it now, as it could decrease the presence of Black Greeks during February, because maybe not everyone is to be accepted and reinstated,”

Ron Ulysse is a sophomore finance major and the president of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. He said that although he would have loved for the pause to have been a “case by case thing,” he is fine that it went otherwise.

“Speaking for my Brothers and I, I can honestly say that we feel like this pause was done out of concern for where Greek life seemed like it’s been heading in the recent years especially with the prevalence of  events that disgrace the values that our organizations stand for,” Ulysse said. “In the hope that our organizations and members can get back to that, we feel like the University took on a proactive approach by coming up with their own solution. It definitely gave our organizations a chance to reevaluate our organizations and work towards solutions that will bring us together,”

Ulysse said the goal is to ensure that their greek organizations get some sense of togetherness.

“Black History Month is a great month for those in NPHC organizations can acknowledge and honor leaders in the struggles of African American history,” He said “Our organizations are apart of Black History and our organizations are also home to a variety of leaders in Black History like our Fraternal Brother Huey P. Newton, Alpha Phi Alpha Brother Martin Luther King  Jr, or Delta Sigma Theta Sister Shirley Chisholm,” Ulysse said.

Ulysse said to be a part of Phi Beta Sigma means to be apart of a brotherhood that has people that are reliant and community conscious leaders and celebrating black history through their “rich history” this February is an honor.


Feature Image by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW

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