By Lori Vetrano
This past Saturday, Dec. 8, the multicultural Asian-interest Greek organization, Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, held its second annual Multicultural Greek Show in the Villanova Room. A diverse audience was in attendance, with performances by students from both the University and Philadelphia area schools.
The show consisted mostly of stepping and strolling, two traditional performances primarily done by multicultural Greek organizations. Stepping consists of percussive body movements with stomping, clapping and spoken word, while strolling consists of members dancing in line behind one another.
Many of the performers wore traditional line jackets emblazoned with Greek letters, nicknames and line numbers, periodically whooping and chanting throughout the show. The event brought together a unique Greek community consisting of individualized traditions and customs.
However, a mere three years ago, this kind of show would have never been possible without the help of primarily outside organizations. In the spring of 2009, there were just a few multicultural Greek organizations on campus. Later that winter, however, the Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority was established on campus, and a year and a half later the Sigma Psi Zeta Asian Sorority was chartered.
This past year alone, four new multicultural Greek organizations have sprung up on campus: Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Latin Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority and, most recently, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which was chartered on campus this past November. Omega Psi Phi, Zeta Phi Beta and Alpha Kappa Alpha are all a part of the historically multicultural organizations known as the “Divine Nine,” which are the nine original black/African-American sororities and fraternities.
“It is wonderful to see the diversity of organizations and the growth in members,” says Zeta Phi Beta member Sarai Morris. “It is great for people to have the opportunity to join an organization of people who share the same values and believe in the same principles.”
Both organizations have their own unique traditions and members. Although they both call members of their respective organizations “sorors”—derived from the Greek word “sorority”—the intricate similarities end there. Zeta Phi Beta’s colors are blue royal and white, while Alpha Kappa Alpha members wear salmon pink and apple green.
Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first black sorority, was founded on Jan. 15, 1908, while Zeta Phi Beta was founded over a decade later on Jan. 16, 1920, with widely different principles. The University’s chapter of Zeta Phi Beta currently consists of six sorors, and Alpha Kappa Alpha has 12.
“There was a strong interest in Alpha Kappa Alpha on campus but there was no chapter, so interested ladies could not apply to join,” says member Simone Harris. “The University was also very interested in having our sorority on campus.”
However, both organizations agree on the importance of unity, community and service amongst Greeks.
“Multicultural Greek organizations offer students a connection to cultural traditions and heritage,” Harris explains. “There is probably not a huge difference between the groups. They are all engaged in community service.”
Morris agrees, stating that “Zeta Phi Beta’s [Villanova] chapter plans on supporting the other organizations and overall fostering relationships and networks with all Greeks on campus,” therefore working toward a greater “Greek unity.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha had appointed step captains to help its members with the routine. Zeta Phi Beta also practiced continuously as a chapter. The result was a highly entertaining, energy-filled show, displaying the talents of the University’s new, diverse organizations. There was stomping, clapping, dancing, taunting and a sense of sheer pride throughout the room. Though members wore their respective colors and gear, everyone supported one another’s performance and welcomed the newcomers.
The showcase was a true demonstration of the positive changes on campus and the beginning of a new era for multicultural Greek organizations at the University.