Fraternity looking for a few good men
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 23:11
SMU's master of divinity student Jermaine Mulley, who was raised by his brother, did some research and read about Alpha Phi Alpha civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and W. E. B. Dubois before deciding Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. was the right brotherhood for him.
“I went on the national website discreetly and found out what Alpha Phi Alpha was doing,” Mulley said. “This organization is more grand than any of us could describe. I’m just climbing, trying to make it so that I’m in the same light as the men who have done so much for the nation and the world.”
Many students feel that campus life at SMU is sometimes controlled by Greek life. Some of the year’s highest attended events like Program Council’s Sing Song are dominated by fraternity and sorority participants. Indeed, finding a fraternity on campus is not difficult. Memberships are as high as 32 percent of SMU men and 43% of women according to U.S. News. Mulley is glad that students will have one more option within the next year: Alpha, as the international fraternity is often called.
The brotherhood is now recognized on campus as a member of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, said Ashley Meredith, SMU coordinator of fraternity and sorority life and faculty advisor to the NPHC. All they have left to do is find interested students.
“We’re really excited to have Alpha Phi Alpha on campus,” Meredith said. “NPHC is about making sure everyone supports one another. Alpha Phi Alpha is a contributing member, not only to the NPHC, but to the Greek community and the SMU community as a whole.”
Alpha was removed from campus in 2005 after an off-campus hazing incident left SMU junior Brandon Curry, 20, in a coma. He and another pledge were forced to drink excessive amounts of water and hot sauce. They were told if they stopped drinking, they would be hit with a paddle. Curry recovered from the coma and later completed his degree.
Alpha is not the first fraternal organization to be kicked off campus and make a return after breaking the rules. Kappa Alpha Order made its return to campus in fall 2010 after the chapter was closed in 2009 for violating probation. Phi Delta Theta is currently under deferred suspension and Sigma Alpha Epsilon is on disciplinary probation, according to the SMU Fraternity and Sorority Life’s webpage.
Like SMU, Alpha has its own anti-hazing policies, going as far as to prohibit students from subjecting themselves to hazing, according to contracts signed by those interested in being initiated into the fraternity.
Vice President of the Southwestern Region Roderick Smothers told potential pledges to report to him if they felt they were being hazed.
“The way I look at it is, I take his letters for yours,” Smothers said Aug. 26 at an informational meeting. The session pulled in an audience of only four “aspirants” as they were often called by members who were reluctant, not only to speak about the history of hazing incidences, but to refer to potential members as “pledges.”
One of Alpha’s first official campus appearances outside of Greek showcases was last year at the I Have a Dream speech and March on Washington reenactment. The speech, which the Fine Arts Community hopes to put on again this year, took place on the steps of Dallas Hall and was followed by a march to Hughes-Trigg Student Center.
Christopher O’Riley, a graduate student in Perkins School of Theology and member of Alpha Phi Alpha, played the part of Martin Luther King, Jr. The event held great meaning for the fraternity because King was an Alpha.
“It is a symbolic reflection on my fraternity,” O’Riley said after speaking last year. “Being chosen for this gives us the chance to show what Alpha men are made of not only in dress, but in speech and thoughts.”
Alpha was the first African-American fraternity. It started in 1906 at Cornell University as a social studies club. Members have included not only famous civil rights leaders, but entertainers like jazz singer Duke Ellington and athletes like Olympic gold medalist Jesse Owens, among others.