Phi Beta Sigma joins IFC, gains benefits

Members of Phi Beta Sigma. (Photo Courtesy of Mikel Neil)

For several years, National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities have been a recognized part of K-State greek life. Instead of being housed in the Office of Greek Affairs like Interfraternity Council fraternities and Pan-Hellenic Council sororities, however, NPHC and other multicultural greeks were housed in the Office of Diversity.

According to Ben Hopper, director of the Office of Greek Affairs, in past years there were events where NPHC greeks would partner with IFC fraternities and PHC sororities.

“There is some collaboration,” Hopper said. “We’re working on how we can collaborate more and how can we support each other’s events and philanthropies and service projects.”

Traditional and multicultural greeks have always been housed in separate offices. According to Deron Wright, chapter vice president of Phi Beta Sigma and senior in management, when Phi Beta Sigma received a new adviser, the fraternity started looking toward bringing together a system that appeared to be segregated.

“We had our adviser, who really wanted us to be part of IFC because she didn’t like the idea of it being pretty much segregated,” Wright said. “You have IFC, which is pretty much the white group, and the Office of Diversity was in charge of multicultural and the black groups. For us, it was pretty much just NPHC, which is the black organization. She encouraged us to go join IFC.”

One possible reason for the separation of the two greek offices is because of differences in needs, according to Jesse Hill, chapter president of Phi Beta Sigma and senior in computer engineering.

“I’m not 100 percent sure of the reason why (multicultural and traditional greeks) were separate, but I know part of it was because the Office of Diversity wanted to help those other organizations because they didn’t have those resources and couldn’t join IFC,” Hill said. “So the Office of Diversity wanted to basically sponsor those organizations and get funding for trips and going to conferences.”

Jessica Elmore, assistant director of diversity programs for the K-State Alumni Association, said another reason for the separation between the offices could be because the greek organizations target their energy on different communities.

“At K-State, both groups of organizations are about philanthropy, but it’s the communities that people choose to focus their resources and their energy on,” Elmore said. “That’s where the commonalities are, but that’s where the difference is too.”

Phi Beta Sigma has begun to bridge the gap between multicultural and traditional greek life when they became part of IFC, according to Hill.

“Our national organization are one of the few national organizations that is a part of NPHC and is also allowed to be a part of IFC,” Hill said. “No other (NPHC) organization has tried to join IFC on campus, or any other campus that we have known, because usually their greek affairs office has NPHC and IFC altogether.”

Another reason Phi Beta Sigma decided to join was to gain resources that were not available to them while they were only under the jurisdiction of NPHC, according to Hill.

“The main difference between (NPHC) and IFC is the resources on campus,” Hill said. “When we joined we stayed a part of NPHC, so we’re just trying to get access to those other resources and also spread diversity on campus and just work together with all of fraternities and sororities instead of just one greek group of fraternities and sororities.”

Phi Beta Sigma is currently the only chapter that is part of both NPHC and IFC organizations at K-State. According to Hopper, if other NPHC fraternities decided that they wanted to become part of IFC organizations, they would have to ensure that they could be part of both national organizations.

“We have a lot of policy, and every national organization has a lot of policy that governs its organization, and I’ve heard that some of our NPHC group’s national organization don’t allow any other council other than their organization (to govern a chapter),” Hopper said. “So, one group might not be able to do what Phi Beta Sigma did and join both, so they have to follow their governments of their national organization.”