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Beta Omega Chi fraternity celebrates 10 years during Black Alumni Reunion weekend

Alumni, undergraduates reflect on origins of Brown-founded fraternity

<p>After BOX was first conceptualized, organization members worked to expand their legacy on campus — gaining formal recognition from the State of Rhode Island in 2014 and a residential allotment in Olney House in 2016.</p>

After BOX was first conceptualized, organization members worked to expand their legacy on campus — gaining formal recognition from the State of Rhode Island in 2014 and a residential allotment in Olney House in 2016.

Beta Omega Chi celebrated its 10-year anniversary on campus during Black Alumni Reunion, inviting affiliated alumni and current undergraduates to come together and commemorate a decade of the organization, officially marked a month prior.

BOX — a Brown-based Black fraternity founded in September 2013 by undergraduates Andrew Gonzales ’16, Ahmed Elsayed ’16 and Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 — aims to “serve the Black men of Brown’s campus as they (navigate) the Ivy League,” according to the organization’s website. An anti-hazing and philanthropic organization, the fraternity currently serves 18 undergraduate members and several affiliated alumni, according to BOX public relations team member Ethan Gardner ’23.5.

“BOX, to me, is a safe haven and a community,” Gardner said, citing the organization's commitment to fostering “family, education, loyalty and legacy” among its members.

After BOX was first conceptualized, organization members worked to expand their legacy on campus, gaining formal recognition from the State of Rhode Island in 2014 and a residential allotment in Olney House in 2016, according to a 2016 Blognonian interview.

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“Part of the reason why we got recognition is the hard work and … people saw what we were doing,” Elsayed shared in the 2016 interview. “Now that we have a house, we can operate at a level that we’ve never been able to operate (at) before.”

BOX Alumni Association Co-President Jabril King-Mahdi ’20 — who arrived on campus during the fraternity’s first official residential semester in fall 2016 — also noted the significance of the movement to Olney in an interview with The Herald. 

“We learned a lot from the older guys about the work they had to put in to gain that kind of recognition and privilege,” King-Mahdi said. “To see how (current members) have taken their space and made it their own is just really rewarding.”

This October, King-Mahdi returned to campus to commemorate the fraternity’s 10-year anniversary, along with several other affiliated alumni and undergraduate students. BOX Alumni Association Co-President Kobina Johnson ’20 called the event a “momentous occasion.”

“It’s a really meaningful experience to be back on campus for Black Alumni Reunion … and to celebrate such a historic event for our organization,” Johnson said.

The 10-year celebration was organized to coincide with the Black Alumni Reunion to boost attendance, according to Johnson. The weekend’s events included the dedication of Churchill House, a gospel celebration event and a networking symposium.

In addition to the Black Alumni Reunion programs, BOX members conducted ceremonial events including a community lunch and a fraternity-wide community service event. 

“It was nice to be able to participate in the community, and to give back a little bit of what Brown has given to us,” Johnson said. 

Derek Irby ’25, current head of public relations for BOX, also expressed the significance of the decennial celebration, calling it a “tremendously fulfilling experience.”

“It was amazing seeing the career endeavors the alumni at BOX have been engaging in since they have left this campus,” Irby said. “I take pride in being a part of an organization where so many members are now making such positive contributions to society.”

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For Gardner, the 10-year milestone is significant given the fraternity’s origins.

BOX “started in the basement of Sayles begging for space on campus. Now we host parties, have our own lounge and are involved in various events on campus,” he said. “For me, it is a monument to (not only) how far we’ve come, but how much work there is left to do.”

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Samantha Chambers

Samantha is a University News editor who oversees the Affinity & Activism beat. She is a sophomore from Tampa, Florida concentrating in Sociology. In her free time, Samantha likes to cook and watch Survivor.



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