University News

Non-residential Greek houses offer different experience

By
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Non-residential fraternities and sororities provide a select group of undergraduates with a tight community and the opportunity to get to know peers beyond College Hill, according to Antar Tichavakunda ’11, president of Alpha Phi Alpha’s regional chapter and the sole member at Brown.

The three active non-residential Greeks — Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Phi Alpha — cater to African Americans and “have a long history at Brown,” according to Shelley Adriance, assistant director of leadership development for student activities. The first black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, “was established in Providence by a few professional men and some Brown students in 1921,” according to Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Since then, six more African-American fraternities and sororities have been established under the umbrella organization of the National Pan-Hellenic Council.

Many of the groups have become inactive since they were first founded, Adriance said. “Some will come back as they can recruit members,” she said.

Because of their specific missions and lack of visibility on campus, they rarely induct new members. This year Alpha Phi Alpha does not have any pledges, but Tichavakunda is “not worried” because “four out of five of us will still be in college.”

“We will definitely have intake next year,” he said.

Anna Darby ’10, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, is “confident that there are plenty of young women at Brown interested in (their) goals of sisterhood and service,” she said.
Without the “visual presence of residentials,” Adriance said that non-residential Greeks may be “harder for people to notice.”

Tichavakunda said there “wasn’t much recruiting” for his fraternity. Non-residential Greeks attract members who have “done their research” and are seeking a specific experience, Tichavakunda said.

“Philanthropy is the main priority” of the non-residential Greeks, according to Adriance. Most of their events are educational or for charitable causes, she said. Recognized by the Student Activities Office, each Greek house can host one large party per semester while the majority of their events are smaller, she said.

On March 20, Alpha Kappa Alpha hosted the Flashing Lights Charity Fashion Show to raise money for earthquake relief in Haiti, which Darby called “very successful.”
“A lot of friends and new faces came out to support” the event, which was sponsored by the Late Night Fund, she added.

Like residential Greeks, non-residential fraternities and sororities do not receive any funding from the Undergraduate Finance Board. Alpha Kappa Alpha is “pretty self-sufficient,” Darby said, but she is “sure if (they) were having issues with programming, (they) could talk to someone” at the University.

Frequently attended by people from other schools, events hosted by non-residential Greeks “break the Brown bubble” and create “solidarity within the black community,” Tichavakunda said. “It’s good to hear other perspectives.”

Darby has made some of her closest friends through the sorority and has gotten “to know people outside Brown” through her participation in Alpha Kappa Alpha, she said.
Tichavakunda enjoys being a member of a local chapter because he is able to meet students from other schools, he said. “It makes me a citizen of a community, more than just a Brown citizen,” he added.

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