Tatiana M. Brown Special to the Chronicle
Previous Members of the Alpha Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, along with other members of Phi Beta Sigma who are living in the area, are leading a movement for the permanent return of the fraternity to campus.
The fraternity’s last line crossed in spring 2004, and the last Hofstra member of the fraternity graduated in May 2008. Facing its gradual declination and finally its complete lack of members, the fraternity had no choice but to fade from campus.
“I don’t like to say it faded out,” said Brandon Marinia, Hofstra alumnus and member of the Alpha Alpha Iota chapter of Phi Beta Sigma. “The focus of the brothers that were on campus turned more towards graduation and their career paths. Unfortunately Sigma took a back burner, thus us losing membership at Hofstra.”
According to “Constitutionally Bound: The Founders of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority” by Matthew W. Hughey, these fraternities are informally known as Phi Beta Sigma or “Sigmas.” They are Black Greek-Letter Organizations (BGLOs), and members of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). The Sigmas can trace their roots to 1914, when three African-American students founded the organization on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The students, Abram Langston Taylor, Charles Ignatius Brown and Leonard Francis Moore, founded the fraternity on the basis that they wanted an organization that would truly exemplify the high ideals of brotherhood, scholarship and service.
“The founders deeply wished to create an organization that viewed itself as a part of the general community,” said Marinia. “They believed that each potential member should be judged on his own merits rather than his family background or affluence, without regard to race, nationality, color, skin tone or texture of hair. They wished and wanted their fraternity to exist as a part of an even greater brotherhood-sisterhood which would be devoted to the inclusive ‘we’ rather than the exclusive ‘we.’”
Marinia was one of the spearheads in the process of returning Phi Beta Sigma to Hofstra’s campus, along with fellow Phi Beta Sigma member Macario James. However, the process of returning to Hofstra’s campus wasn’t easy.
“The campus had a freeze and was not allowing any new or returning Greek lettered organizations to come back onto the campus,” said Marinia. “Once the brothers of the grad chapter were made aware of the ban being lifted it was decided it was time to reactivate the chapter.”
The process involved a lot of paperwork and communication between the Office of Student Leadership and Activities, Marinia and James and the Regional and National Headquarters of Phi Beta Sigma. The Sigmas had to make presentations and be voted upon by the school and by the African Fraternal Sororal Alliance (ALFSA) to return.
The Sigmas celebrated their return by participating in the Unity Jam, which was held at Hofstra USA on September 7; and Sigmabucks on September 21. The fraternity is also in the process of planning events with the Black Student Union and the Phi Iota Fraternity post-debate.
“We want to bring back that down-south feel of fraternity and Greek life as a whole,” said Marinia. “We are trying to bring new ideas and enjoyable programs, bring that new breath of fresh air to Hofstra. We want to show the students at Hofstra how and why Sigmas are the sum of it all.”
If students are interested in joining the fraternity they must be enrolled in school and have earned at least 12 credit hours, must currently have a 2.5 cumulative GPA, must pass the interview process and application package process and must be able to finish a membership intake process. Any questions or concerns about Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. can be sent to HofstraSigmas1914@gmail.com.