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Oldest black fraternity in the U.S. comes to FGCU

Oldest black fraternity in the U.S. comes to FGCU
En Photo/Jack Lowenstein.

Young men at Cornell University laid the groundwork for their African American descendants through the bond of brotherhood in 1906. Alpha Phi Alpha became the first intercollegiate Greek fraternity established for African American men in the United States. Now, the fraternity has extended itself a new chapter, Upsilon Sigma at FGCU.

According to the Alpha Phi Alpha website, “Since its founding on December 4, 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. has supplied voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world.”

The Upsilon Sigma chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. officially became recognized as a fraternity by the National Pan-Hellenic Council at FGCU this fall.

Daniel Stallings, the chapter’s president, has emphasized the fraternity’s value of community outreach.

“We are here to reestablish the idea of service and working togetherness and brotherhood on this campus, for fraternities to not only look at themselves as social clubs or social entities but to take responsibility for their role in their class, and to make sure that the student body has proper role models to be able to identify work in the community with outreach in their hands in order to touch other people in the community,” Stallings said.

Stallings pinpoints areas of interest he thinks his fraternity will look to serve in the community.

“We’re going to be doing all forms of community service, whether it’s helping people learn to vote, whether it’s getting people through their high school experiences and scholarship applications or whether it’s just finding ways to tackle the regulations that we currently have on campus,” Stallings said.

Antwon Lindsey, a founding member of the Upsilon Sigma chapter, will graduate this fall, and he is confident the groundwork he helped create on campus will remain a foundation after he moves forward in his life.

“Especially with establishing a lot of organizational structure within the (Black Student Alliance), and then moving forward to be the chair of the Coalition of Black Organizational Leaders, my establishing the ‘I Am Divine Pageant,’ which is a diversity pageant that is for all students at FGCU, and I know that this will allow my brothers to see the leadership roles that I have taken on to establish that standard for them to not settle for anything less than diversity as well as scholarship,” Lindsey said. “I think they will be good with my examples.”

Anthony Hyatt, the campus adviser for the Upsilon Sigma chapter, said it took about two years to apply for a chapter and solidify a place for Alpha Phi Alpha at FGCU.

“It has been a long process,” Hyatt said. “First with myself, I’m an alumni of FGCU as well, and Alpha Phi Alpha was not presented on this campus when I was here, and to expand and grow the Greek life at the university, I felt that Alpha Phi Alpha should be on a campus of FGCU just to allow students of different backgrounds, students of different diverse populations the option to maybe join Alpha Phi Alpha or Kappa Alpha Si, Phi Beta Sigma, which are different organizations in the National Pan-Hellenic Council.”

Hyatt went through the process of submitting a request to the Office of Student Involvement on FGCU’s campus then submitting an application to the national office at Alpha Phi Alpha. Then the fraternity brothers and Hyatt needed approval from the district, regional and national offices for a chapter on campus.

“So, it was a process of getting different regions to approve FGCU having a chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha here,” Hyatt said. “We have a wealth of history, of knowledge, of leaders within the organization who have trail-blazed a lot for our country. And, with students who want to join within Alpha Phi Alpha, not only will they be able to grasp a good network of people that are in different areas or within different fields of study, but they’ll be able to gain a good brotherhood as well.”

Hyatt said Alpha Phi Alpha reaches overseas to countries such as England, South Africa and Vietnam. Public figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall and Duke Ellington have been members of Alpha Phi Alpha chapters.

“I take pride in the men that have come before me and have established what I am known to become now, an Alpha man, and to uphold the dignified and structured beliefs and ideals that they held,” said Kevin Ho-Yen, treasurer of Upsilon Sigma.

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    Many Alpha Phi Alpha chapters across the country, with the encouragement and participation of alumni members, require applicants to go through a semester of “processing” during which they are required to attend numerous all night sessions that often include brutal paddlings and general beatings. I hope that this not one of the traditions that is brought to this new chapter. Without it the Alpha Phi Alpha experience can be s good one.

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    Gary, thank you for replying to this article in an effort to encourage and welcome this new chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha to the campus. As stated in the article, they have great plans to help uplift and continue the good that the fraternity and the school has to offer. In respect to the brutal paddlings and general beatings, Alpha Phi Alpha’s national website clearly forbids such actions. In reading it, I found the process to be a clear, short-term process. I do encourage you to visit and read the site. Until then, please encourage these young men to continue in a positive mind and a respectful demeanor. P.S. The experience is a good one. Respectfully, Dr. Winston Bishop

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    Kappa Alpha Psi *

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    Hazing is a problem that many collegiate organizations have. Why Gary would decide to mention something negative in this article is beyond me. It is disingenuous at best. Welcome to FGCU Upsilon Sigma!!! I’m sure you gentlemen will make a positive imprint on student life for many years to come!

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    If it is a new chapter it has no institutional history of hazing as do many longer established chapters. I am wishing them luck and hoping they will avoid this kind of cruel conduct.

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    Gary if you read the article you would know the chapter is new. That reply makes no sense at all.

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    OK, what I meant is “SINCE it is a new chapter etc.” The national fraternity abolished pledging in 2013 with the hope that the new membership process, handled by the national office, would end hazing. The problem is that there many alumni members who came up through the old system and are committed to the harsh hazing. They approach the new kids and tell them that they will just be “paper” members unless they go through what their elders did. Before you know it hazing is back although secret, underground and probably unknown to the national office. . Again , I was just expressing the hope that this doesn’t happen at this new chapter. There is an extensive literature on all of this. Just Google “Alpha Phi Alpha hazing” or “Black fraternity hazing.” You will find a lot including at least 2 multi-million dollar lawsuits pending against Alpha Phi Alpha for hazing.

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    Gary, you have some valid and invalid points. Some words are facts and some opinionated. However, my hope is that this article does not get lost in its purpose because of misplaced topics. This was a “welcome” article that introduced a new charter to the campus. Hazing is indeed a topic that can be discussed. However, my hope is that it will not continue to attach itself to this article. Allow the young men to introduce themselves. Let them establish themselves in campus. Did you know, they are the first of the NPHC to hang their charter in the Charter Room? Did you know that these young men hold office and are part of other organizations on campus? These are some responses to this stimulized article about this new charter. I ask only that the hazing topic be attached to another article. Respectfully.

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    Gary, your input has brought negativity that these young men don’t deserve. You have done the equivalent of “Hello, I hope you’re not evil.” Maybe you had the best intentions of “educating” other readers about the horrors of hazing but this was truly a tacky time and place to do that. A bigger person would apologize and not continue to comment what they “meant to say”. Are you that bigger person? While you are mentioning negative things about Alpha Phi Alpha, I counter with asking the readers to Google #raisedbyanAlphaman to learn more about Alpha Phi Alpha.

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