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National Pan-Hellenic Council is an organization comprised of nine fraternities and sororities with roots in Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

 

Texas Tech is home to seven of those nine organizations with five active chapters: Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta, Alpha Phi Alpha, Omega Psi Phi and Kappa Alpha Psi.

 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council has not been highlighted as much as  other Greek life groups on the Tech campus. However, this year there has an increase in participation for NPHC with the return of Kappa Alpha Psi, a fraternity that was put on probation for reasons not specified to The Daily Toreador.

 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is similar to other Intra-Fraternity Council Organizations, such as the Intra-Fraternity Council or the Panhellenic Council, yet has some very distinct differences. Like most Greek Life organizations, the National Pan-Hellenic Council promotes academic excellence and philanthropy to its members, according to the Tech NPHC website. Members of NPHC fraternities and sororities are highly involved in campus life and host social events such as parties and tailgates.

 

“We’re close, so we all show support at every event that each org hosts, and when it comes time to hang out we all kind of hang out together,” Tunde Leshi, a senior from Houston and president of the Xi Eta chapter of Omega Psi Phi, said. “It’d be great to have 20, 30 (of us) on campus, I mean I would love to see it.”

 

The process of joining an NPHC is very secretive. Prospective members reach out to the organization and express their interest at an interest meeting. They then begin the process of formal rush, complete with interviews and sections, according to the Tech NPHC website. Once they are selected to join the organization, they begin educational lessons about the organization's history and responsibilities of membership.

 

Upon completion of the lessons, the new members undergo a crossing, or initiation, in their line, or new member class. They are inducted and  revealed at a probate, according to Tech’s Fraternity & Sorority Life website.

 

Since the process of the organization is secretive, the new members wear masks or facial coverings during the probate to maintain anonymity until they are inducted as a member of the organization and their identity is revealed, according to the Tech NPHC website.

 

Probates are a way for the new members to showcase their knowledge of their organization as well as celebrate the chapter’s newest additions, Trina Jefferson, chapter president for the Eta Lambda chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, said.

 

“Our probates are (just an opportunity) for each new initiate or new Delta to show all the hard work that has (gone) through and to show the campus who they are,” Jefferson said.

 

By stepping — which is a form of dancing that includes singing, clapping and acting — the organizations perform for the crowd that has come to observe new member initiation. In addition, it is a way of presenting new members before their identities are widely known, according to the Tech NPHC website.

 

All of the NPHC organizations participate in stepping, Jefferson said. Other types of these dances include the party walk, or party hop, and strolling. While there is a distinct difference between each of these forms of dance, the difference can be hard for outsiders to distinguish.

 

Older members of NPHC organizations teach the new lines how to step, Leshi said.

 

“It’s like you got this from someone else that was here before you,” he said. “And for the older people to come back and be able to kind of do the same thing as them is always kind of cool. And when it comes to newer stuff we can all be sitting around and be like, ‘Hey, y’all want to make up a new hop?”

 

However, those dances are not exclusive to just the probate ceremonies, he said. Sometimes his group and others may be asked to perform the dances at various functions like pre-game basketball shows, social events or random get-togethers.

 

But membership in the fraternities is not all about fun, Jefferson said. Being part of what the NPHC defines as the “Divine Nine” — the name given for the nine historically African American fraternities — comes with a focus on grades and philanthropy.

 

Members are expected to focus on grades and continue to be active in the community, according to the Tech website. Many of the organizations on campus also take it upon themselves to make regular visits to local Boys and Girls Club chapters.

 

“We just have to show them, ‘No, we’re here for y’all. We’re not here for volunteer hours just to say we did it,’” Jefferson said. “’We care about y’all and what you do.’”

 

However, for all the organizations, they are not concerned with how many members they have. They are concerned with the quality of their members. In fact, Leshi said he is one of three active members in his fraternity.

 

On a different note, Jefferson has also gained an understanding that many people on campus might not view her sorority as an official sorority.

 

“It’s just one of those things where we have to be like, ‘Hey, we’re here. We do stuff,’” Jefferson said. “I know we’re not like a social sorority, and because we’re not a social sorority we’re not as highlighted.”

 

All in all, the National Pan-Hellenic Council is part of Tech’s culture. Though their secrecy and small numbers make them difficult to find, they welcome people to join their events, organizations and culture.

 

Editor's note: The DT reached out to Nia Cromartie, Tech NPHC president, for comment but did not receive a response.

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