Phi Beta Sigma begins return to campus after brief absence

Shruti Kumar

Black Greek life at Northwestern is expanding to new horizons with the recent re-establishment of the Iota Nu chapter of fraternity Phi Beta Sigma.

The fraternity, which returned to campus this year after losing all its members to graduation in 1999, already has three members and just completed its first officer election process.

Phi Beta Sigma is the third historically black fraternity on NU’s roster, along with Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi. A fourth black fraternity, Iota Phi Theta, is represented by one student on campus.

“After doing my research I found that (Phi Beta Sigma) is a strong group of men who have excellent ideals, which is what I was looking for in a fraternity,” said Ikechuku Ndukwe, a Weinberg sophomore and one of the three members.

In the past, the dominant black fraternity on campus has gone unchallenged, but Dezmond Sumpter, Phi Beta Sigma’s vice president, expects the new fraternity to heighten the level of competition.

“In the past black fraternities didn’t really do anything to gain membership because there were only two on campus,” said Sumpter, a Weinberg sophomore. “Next year the level of programming and social service will increase.”

Ndukwe said the goal of the new fraternity was not to overpower any of the existing fraternities but to bring a fuller range of choices from which black men at NU can choose.

“Let there be all the options so that people don’t have to get (forced) into one fraternity as it has been for a long time,” Ndukwe said.

Phi Beta Sigma was founded in 1914 at Howard University in Washington. Some well-known members include Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago; Jerry Rice, the Oakland Raiders wide receiver and scientist George Washington Carver.

Ronald Adams, the fraternity’s president, said this year’s pledge process was long and arduous.

“We had to start a whole new tradition,” said Adams, an Education sophomore. “We had to start from scratch by electing officers, building a constitution and setting guidelines for how we want (this fraternity) to be known.”

Phi Beta Sigma is looking forward to work with other fraternities, Adams said, as those groups were supportive in bringing the fraternity back to campus.

Alpha Phi Alpha has eight members on campus, while Kappa Alpha Psi has six. The fifth nationally recognized black fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, also left campus years ago and has not yet returned.

Black Greek life is headed in a positive direction, said Ebo Dawson-Andoh, president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and he hopes the addition of a new fraternity will promote knowledge of black Greek organizations on campus.

In the meantime the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma are rejoicing in their latest accomplishment.

“We have brought the legacy back in full effect,” Ndukwe said. “The illustrious, innovative and invincible Phi Beta Sigma.”