Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B Dubois, Duke Ellington, Jackie Robinson and Thurgood Marshall are all defined as historic African American men that stood as dominant figures of American culture. Since adolescence, we have read about their adversities, their successes and their contributions. Yet, what many people didn’t know about these men is that they are all a part of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha – the same fraternity that is here on this very campus. After a long hiatus, Missouri Western’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity is now returning to Western’s campus with increased membership, new goals and big shoes to fill.
Vice President of Alpha Phi Alpha Jamal Ahmed explains that the hiatus was due to both academics and an established reputation that the fraternity did not adhere to.
“We went through what we call an internal digression,” Ahmed said. “We let our grades slip and put ourselves on a self-made suspension. We were not taking care of business like we were supposed to. We had to get our acts together before we promoted Alpha.”
In the fall of 2010, the Alphas decided to take their personal suspension off and begin rebuilding their fraternity. This rebuilding included pledging three new members: DeAndre Diamond, Shedrick Christian and Mark Bush. Ahmed explains that choosing new members after the suspension was a long process as they were looking for high-caliber members with exceptional quality.
“A lot of guys that were interested did not meet our expectations,” Ahmed said. “These three gentlemen have went above in beyond in meeting and setting the bar of those expectations. I’ve been talking with these guys for awhile and priming them. I’m very confident.”
In 2010, 2008 and 2007 the Alphas won fraternity of the year. In edition to this, they won organization of the year in 2009. 2008 was also the year the Alphas pledged their last member before the hiatus took place. This member was former Student Government Association Vice President Ernest Chamblee. With all of these accolades, the Alphas have already started planning and preparing to maintain their campus status.
“There is definitely a lot of grandeur coming out after a 3-year hiatus,” Christian said. “We have big plans to uplift the chapter even more and put it back on that pedestal that it needs to be. First and foremost is making sure our own academic standards are met. We want to raise that bar back up to previous years’.”
These academic standards include maintaining a 2.5 GPA and being enrolled in 12 credit hours. The members must also be involved in at least two campus organizations and be a registered voter, along with being a person of outstanding character. Currently, numerous members of the fraternity are involved in organizations that include Black Student Union, WAC, Griffon Arts Alliance and Chemistry Club. One member has even started his own personal cake business.
“Pretty much any and every aspect of student life we want to be apart of,” Christian said.
A major goal of the fraternity is to unite the Missouri Western campus as a whole.
“We had a meeting with Dr. Peralez,” Ahmed said. “[We felt] the minorities on this campus are kind of outcasts. They don’t have much to do. What Alpha Phi Alpha is trying to do is act as an ambassador to unite the campus, giving everybody one group instead of two separate societies.”
According to the Alphas, uniting the campus begins with exposing themselves as positive campus figures. The Alphas plan to host a clothing drive and a pie-an-Alpha fundraiser to raise money for the community. The Alpha’s first event will be held during Alpha week, which begins Nov. 28 and ends on Dec. 3. During the week, the members will host a women’s appreciation day and a formal discussion on sexual education.
“We want to not only uplift the chapter, yet the campus as well,” Diamond said. “What we have planned is to bring a lot of exposure to Western.”
Among exposing positivity on campus, the Alphas plan to maintain a strong brotherly relationship with all of their members.
“With a fraternity you have a more intimate relationship with the members,” Bush said. “It makes you accountable.”
Diamond feels that this brotherhood will be something that he will appreciate even after he graduates.
“For the overall experience the organization is going to make me a better person,” Diamond said. “The time I have with the men is going to be a time I cherish in my life.”
Ultimately, the Alphas want Missouri Western to remember their successes and contributions, just as we remember their historic ancestors that once led our country. As the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity was the first established African-American fraternity, Missouri Western’s chapter plans to go back to their historic standards of academic achievement, social rights and business administration.
“Our persona is that of business men,” Ahmed said. “We are about our business.”