Nearly three years in the making, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, Inc., will be unveiling the first monument put in place by a black Greek organization at WKU.
“This is a tremendous honor for us to receive,” Julian Leslie, alumni and keeper of records and seal of the Gamma Theta chapter of the Omegas, the graduate chapter here in Bowling Green, said in an email. “A monument or plot is a familiar site at a HBCU (Historical Black College/University). To be able to be the first one on WKU’s campus is almost unreal. On Saturday, Aug. 27, it will become reality and everyone behind us will now have something to shoot for.”
The organization has been on campus since 1968, earning its charter on July 3, 1969, according to Leslie.
The idea came about after two fraternity brothers, Andrew Jackson and Paul Duerson III, were riding back after the 2013 Homecoming. Realizing that the 45th anniversary was approaching, they wanted to do something to honor the organization on campus.
The idea came from the “plots” often seen on Historically Black College University campuses, where nearly every NPHC organization has their own on the campus. Realizing WKU was lacking these, the brothers of the Omegas joined together and formed a committee, including the primary members Paul Duerson III, Andrew Jackson, Montaze Trumbo and D.C. Clement.
“A plot can be in many forms, but for the most part they are usually made out of bricks or trees and designed in the colors of the organization,” Duerson, a primary committee member, said. “As our conversation progressed we knew we did not want a simple plot, we did not want something that required constant maintenance and re-painting. We wanted a standing structure that would last forever and not require lots of maintenance throughout the semester.”
This idea of standing out brought them to Montaze Trumbo, another member of the organization who met with them and came up with ideas of the design.
The final design is made out of black granite and includes “the fraternity’s cardinal principles and escutcheon wrap around the top tier of the monument, as well as the fraternity founders with their name, birth, and death dates,” according to the Gamma Theta Monument website.
The process of getting the monument has been anything but easy for the organization; after endless meetings and presentations on campus, and raising over $42,000, according to the website, nearly three years later the monument will finally be unveiled.
“This monument represents the past, present and future of our glorious chapter and all its members. Not only did we want to represent our current members, but those who have died and gone on to Omega Chapter,” Duerson said. According to Duerson, the monument also gives other men on the campus who may be interested in the fraternity a way to see its impact on campus, prompting them to learn more about the Omegas.
The monument would not have been possible without the help of President Gary Ransdell, according to D.C. Clement, alumni of the Omegas as well as the Graduate Adviser for the WKU undergraduate chapter.
“We are extremely honored and humbled to be the first black Greek organization to be able to put a monument like this on the WKU campus,” Clement said. “We are very thankful to Dr. Gary Ransdell for supporting this project from the very start. Without him this would have never been possible. It is great being the first but hopefully not the last; hopefully this will inspire others to leave their mark at WKU.”
The monument was kept a secret from all other organizations until recently, allowing the Omegas to surprise the rest of campus with the monument that is the first of its kind on this campus.
“Other Greek organizations are somewhat confused and slightly angry that we were able to accomplish this monument,” Duerson said. “Our goal was to be the first black Greek organization on Western’s campus to have such a monument, and in a couple weeks we can officially claim that title. Most of the reaction from other organizations has been the ‘how?’”
The organization hopes this monument can inspire others to make their mark on this campus as well, hoping to be first, but not the last, on WKU’s campus.
“We hope that in the near future all of the black Greek organizations can build some representation of their organization on campus and join us in proudly representing our fraternity or sorority,” Duerson said.
The unveiling of the monument will take place Aug. 27, between Garrett Conference Center and the Kissing Bridge at 1 p.m.
“The ceremony is open to the public and the entire WKU community. Speakers include Dr. Gary Ransdell, national and regional leadership from Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the founders of Gamma Theta Chapter,” Clement said. “We are incredibly excited about the Founder’s Monument coming to WKU and look forward to welcoming many alumni back to campus this coming weekend.”