Author: Emily Gao
First-year students Diamond Coleman and Taylor Fuller are working to establish a chapter of the historically Black sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (AKA) at Occidental.
AKA, part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), started at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Collectively, the NPHC, a group of historically Black sororities and fraternities, is referred to as “The Divine Nine.” The only other NPHC organization on campus is the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi (Kappa).
Coleman and Fuller said that the biggest obstacle in trying to garner support for AKA is the cost. The sorority’s annual fees will cost an estimate of $1200 to $1400 per year, but could be higher, according to Coleman.
Coleman and Fuller said that while their parents would pay their yearly membership fees, they understand that many students cannot afford it.
Students who tried to bring a different historically Black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta
, to campus in the 2013–14 year faced a similar obstacle with finances.
Currently, students do not receive financial support to help pay Greek organization membership dues, according to Assistant Director for Student Life, Student Activities and Greek Life Diego Silva.
Diamond Webb (senior), who was involved in trying to bring Delta to campus, thinks students of color, many of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds, should have financial support for Greek life.
“I think there should be some type of scholarship or funding that basically helps students of color, Black students,” Webb said.
Coleman and Fuller said that membership dues should not scare students away. Some sororities have payment plans, although that information would likely not be disclosed until shortly before members pledge the organization, Coleman said.
Because the failure to instate Delta on campus was due in part to financial concerns, Coleman and Fuller have made the financial and time commitment clear to anyone interested in joining AKA.
But despite financial considerations, there is student support for the organization.
Delta Omicron Tau Vice President Pomaikaikealoha Nakoa (senior) said that chartering AKA at Occidental would encourage diversity among Greek life.
“Although I believe that Oxy and our Greek organizations strive to provide safe spaces for [people of color], I believe the white, heteronormative origins of Greek life can discourage [people of color] from joining,” Nakoa said via email.
Jesse Wong (senior), president and sole member of Occidental’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, also expressed support for AKA.
“I support the type of history AKA brings because as a fellow Divine Nine organization, it would be great to see more representation on campus,” Wong said via email.
However, AKA membership at Occidental would not be limited to people of color, according to Fuller.
“While we want AKA to be a safe space for African-American women, [students] don’t have to be Black to join,” Fuller said.
In addition to garnering support for AKA on campus, Coleman and Fuller have also been working with AKA Far West Regional Director Barbara Trotter to establish AKA on campus. If Coleman and Fuller are able to gather enough potential members, they will be able to meet with Trotter in October, they said. If the chapter can be approved at a NPHC board meeting in November, AKA could be on campus as early as next spring.
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