National Pan-Hellenic Council and its importance to WKU

Louisville senior Harrison Hill, left and Ft. Lauderdale senior Brent O’Connor, right, perform during the 2017 Yard Show. The yearly performance is one of the many events associated with the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC), the governing body of WKU’s nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities.

Griffin Fletcher

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is the governing body of WKU’s nine historically African-American fraternities and sororities, many of which were founded on WKU’s campus in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Durwan “Dee” Green a senior from Dallas, an international business and Spanish major, member of the WKU Forensics team and former president of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, said he believes NPHC is a guiding force at WKU.

“We’re the leaders and the voice for minorities on campus,” Green said.

Green later added, “We were founded on the values of being a voice for minorities.”

Founded in 1906, Alpha Phi Alpha was the first African-American, intercollegiate Greek-lettered fraternity founded in the United States. Green said he is proud to be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha at WKU.

“It’s really an honor to be a part of this fraternity because we had to set the foundation for those to come,” Green said.

Lexington-native and Delta Sigma Theta sorority president Danielle Dailey, an education major, said NPHC is special in that it bonded the “Divine Nine,” the nine most historically influential African-American fraternities and sororities in the United States, each represented at WKU and on NPHC.

“It’s like being part of a family,” Dailey said.

Blake Bowden of Stone Mountain, Georgia, a major in sport management and member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, serves as scholarship chair on the NPHC Executive Board. Bowden said he believes Omega Psi Phi and all of NPHC are important to campus because they are proof of perseverance through segregation.

“We were founded because we weren’t allowed to join white fraternities,” Bowden said. “We had to make our own. Through doing so, we really made something beautiful.”

NPHC is unique from the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the Panhellenic Council, the respective governing bodies of WKU’s fraternities and sororities, in that its organizations feature graduate chapters that exist all over the U.S. and consist of alumni of all ages. Graduate chapters stay active through community service and public works projects.

Bowden said graduate chapters make allegiance to an NPHC organization a lifetime commitment.

“When we join our organization, that is pretty much a lifetime dedication,” Bowden said. “It’s something that you carry on for life.”

Though NPHC organizations are celebrated for their uniqueness, NPHC President LaRosa Shelton, a broadcast journalism major and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, said she hopes to bring organizations from NPHC, IFC and the Panhellenic Council together during her presidency.

“This is something that’s never been done before,” Shelton said. “I want us to be unified, and I think this is the time to do it.”

Shelton said the three entities will be brought together this spring during Greek Week, which will mark the first time organizations from NPHC, IFC and Panhellenic have all experienced Greek Week from the same perspective. Shelton said the organizations will be able to compete through a variety of Greek week-themed events and activities.

Cori Venning, a broadcast news major and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, said she believes it’s important that NPHC, IFC and Panhellenic “bridge the gap” and start working alongside one another more often. Venning said she believes all organizations at WKU share a bond in terms of service, which she said she believes makes integration possible.

“Our main goal is to serve our communities,” Venning said. “We’re just really trying to get out there and try and know each other.”

Reporter Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].