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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Suffolk’s Black Student Union hosts ‘Meet the Divine Nine’ event

Morgan Coleman/Photo Club
Members of BSU’s Outreach Committee from left to right: Hana Wallen, Michelle Osazee, Alexis Ramsay, TT Morrison, Ki Alleyne, Selvin Backert, Jaylen Gomez and Ciara Gabriel

Suffolk University’s Black Student Union hosted a “Meet the Divine Nine” event Oct. 3, an opportunity for students to learn more about the communities and opportunities offered through the nine Black Greek Letter organizations. 

The Divine Nine is a national pan-hellenic council, consisting of five fraternities and four sororities: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.

The panel was organized by BSU’s Outreach Committee, chaired by senior history student Selvin Backert, who found inspiration for the event in his own experiences joining Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated last spring. 

“For me, I found this brotherhood in Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated and I found my place there,” said Backert. “It really was a personal thing in terms of bringing something that’s been so beneficial to me and that I hold so near and dear to my heart, giving that opportunity to other people at Suffolk.”

The National Pan-Hellenic Council was founded in 1930 at Howard University with five chartering organizations, created to provide communities for Black students amidst racial isolation and the fight for civil rights across the nation — spaces of community, support and the fight for social change.

“With the realization of such a need, the African American (Black) Greek-lettered organization movement took on the persona of a haven and outlet, which could foster brotherhood and sisterhood in the pursuit to bring about social change through the development of social programs that would create positive change for Blacks and the country. Today the need remains the same,” the council’s website states. 

Backert’s goal for the event, in alignment with the mission of the Council, was for Suffolk students to learn about an opportunity for community that is open to them in the Boston area. 

“Organizations like these exist because, historically, Black people couldn’t join white fraternal organizations at one point. I wanted to show people that there are other options that are specifically catered towards Black students and students of color, and just show that that is an option for them here at this university,” said Backert. 

The event began with a panel from five of the nine Greek organizations, as each communicated the foundations, goals and pillars driving the chapters.

“It was [founded] because of the idea that if you actually place your value in yourself nobody can tell you what it is. That’s what Iota is,” said Eric James, a brother of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated. “This idea that you can exist as an individual in a world where everybody else tells you you’re not enough…That’s what it means to be an Iota: to have that fighting spirit no matter where you go, no matter what room you enter and no matter what foe you face.”

Across the organizations present, giving back to the community is a shared foundation. For each organization, community engagement occurs in different ways, but supporting young community members throughout their educational careers is a common pillar.

“The whole reason that we founded is to provide that mentorship for the young Black and Brown members of our community,” said James. “Sometimes it’s easy to fall through the cracks if you feel like people are not paying attention to you, or if you feel like people just don’t care.”

Backert has felt the impact of this pillar in his own experiences as a brother of Phi Beta Sigma. 

“It comes down to the brotherhood. I’ve found people who I legitimately call my brothers,” said Backert. “It’s a group of Black men I know I can trust, who I know share similar values to me when it comes to community service, helping the community, taking our skills and giving back to the community; I know that’s something we all share.” 

As stressed throughout the panel discussion, membership in any of the nine organizations comes with a new support network to propel members both in their professional and personal lives.

“They expanded my mind a lot to the different possibilities and opportunities I have to be successful in the world,” said Eric Giln, brother and treasurer of Kappa Alpha Psi. 

Through the event, Black Student Union’s Outreach Committee hopes to introduce more Suffolk students to an opportunity for support and community. 

“I like to provide resources to the community around me. We are in a predominantly white institution, so it can be a little hard trying to find that community or sense of belonging in college. I take a lot of pride in being able to bring these connections to the student population,” said Jaylen Gomez, a junior business economics major at Suffolk and member of the Outreach Committee. 

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About the Contributor
Maren Halpin
Maren Halpin, News Editor | she/her
Maren is a sophomore print/web journalism major with a minor in political science from Milford, Massachusetts. When she’s not in The Journal office, you can usually find Maren in Suffolk’s orientation office or at an on-campus event. In her free time, she loves to go to her favorite coffee shops, listen to Noah Kahan, Hozier and Taylor Swift on repeat, explore the city and spend time with family and friends. Maren is passionate about politics and hopes to go into political journalism in the future. 

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