The Comenian

The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

Photo+by+Elijah+Davis+
Back to Article
Back to Article

The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

Photo by Elijah Davis

Photo by Elijah Davis

Photo by Elijah Davis

Photo by Elijah Davis

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Ask yourself: What do you see when you look at this picture?

Do you see just another gang of young black men? Perhaps distinguished young men? Or maybe brothers trying to enjoy their college years?

The one thing you don’t see is the stress that these Moravian College students — who are members of the Omicron Kappa Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity — are dealing with as they walk the path of being a part of the first and only multicultural Greek organization on campus.

Three Seniors — Baru Roberson (far right), Christopher Antoine ( middle) and I, Keyshawn Griffith (far left) — joined the chapter in the spring semester of 2017.

The chapter was originally founded at Ursinus College. In the 1970s, its charter — which is the document that the national organization signs with the school in order to activate it — was brought to Lehigh University. Then in 2016, the colony, which is similar to a subsection of a chapter, was established at good ole Moravian College. Three juniors (Kahron Walker, Isaiah Jennings and Vishu Solanki) and two seniors (Kush Solanki and Jaheem Maru) became the founding members of Moravian’s colony. They, in turn, inducted us into it.

When we joined the chapter (which includes four members from Lehigh University), we were excited to begin our journey as the second generation on campus. We planned events, went to functions with other brothers, and threw wild parties from time to time — more times than we should have, honestly — among other things.

No one told us that there was a whole lot that came with being brothers in this chapter, things that we weren’t promised, nor did we want.

Ever since we joined the fraternity, we learned the hard way that Moravian College isn’t the easiest place in the world for an organization that is a part of the Divine 9 to flourish.  

The Divine 9 is the illustrious group of five fraternities and four sororities that comprise the first historically black Greek organizations, which were founded to give young black undergraduates an opportunity to have a college experience that embraced and uplifted Black American culture.

This is where Moravian started to lose us.

Unlike other fraternities on Moravian’s campus, members of the Divine 9 were all birthed at  historically black colleges and universities. Thus, our Greek culture differs from that of other white organizations, right down to our very foundation.  

I cannot speak to the other organizations on campus, but our fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi — and our chapter especially — was founded on achievement, in all fields, both in and out of the classroom. So, as much as we love a good party on the weekend, we don’t concern ourselves with just partying.

On this campus, a mentality like that is the same as branding yourself as the black sheep.

Don’t get me wrong: we knew going into this that it was not going to be easy to get students at a mostly-white campus to come out to events hosted by a black fraternity.

But at the very least, we did expect some type of turnout; at the very least, we believed that the school would help to promote our events, as a way to promote Greek life in general. We figured that the College would comprehend the fact that our chapter operates differently from the other predominantly white (PWI) ones on campus. But mostly we thought that it would realize how stressful trying to host cultural events on a PWI campus can be.

I still remember how we tried to pull off one of our first events, a roundtable discussion about social issues and how they’ve become more prominent in the last year due to unfortunate events that unfolded during the last presidential election.  

We made a flyer for it, posted it on social media, and encouraged  people in passing to come out and be a part of the conversation. We asked the other Greek organizations to participate as well. They all said the same thing: “Yeah, sure. I’ll be there.” “I gotchu. Bro.” And all of the other lies.

I remember sitting at the Roundtable. It was just me, Baru, Chris, and our advisor. That’s it.

Most people would’ve given up. Most people would’ve said to hell with all of the event planning and never try again, and rightfully so, with the stress of dealing with the logistics of reserving a space, sending emails, making and posting flyers, on top of all the school work — because let’s not forget, we are students — that needs to get done so we can graduate on time.

But that’s the thing. Baru, Chris and I are not normal people. We’re Nupes.

For those of you who don’t know, the term Nupe stands for Negroes Under Pressure Excelling, our nickname for the brothers in our fraternity.

And at times like that day, sitting at that table, feeling defeated, we each had to remember that the reason we were able to join this organization in the first place was because our older brothers saw something in us that would allow us to thrive during hardships. Hence, the reason our hand sign is the Diamond.

As rocks only shine when they’re subject to extreme pressure, the diamond of our hand sign reminds us not to give up, no matter how much pressure we face.

So as we got back up, planned more events for the semester, and tried to learn from our mistakes. Maybe people didn’t come to our event because it didn’t interest them, we figured. Maybe events centered on social issues aren’t right for this campus.

So we decided to throw a barbecue party.

We scheduled the barbecue for Jack Fest, a Moravian College weekend holiday that allows  students to roam campus like drunken fools.

Baru, Chris and I thought it would be a smart idea to hold the barbecue then because, well, inebriated people and free food is the closest thing to real love that anyone our age has encountered; on top of that we had a DJ and reserved the whole PPHAC patio.

This barbecue was going to be the event that put our chapter on the map and would get people to want to learn more about us. We even reached out to other Greek organizations and to our other friends on campus. All of them said that they were coming and would tell their friends to join them.

We really fooled ourselves — again.

The only people who showed up were the black students from The Black Student Union (BSU) and a couple of stragglers who came to just show their faces, fix a plate of food and leave.  And that wasn’t even the most disrespectful part of the day. What really stung was that hordes of students were at another party not a five-minute walk from our barbecue.

On some level, we get it.

From the outside looking in, Kappa Alpha Psi looks like an organization that is strictly for minority students. But that is not the case. In fact, we have tried relentlessly to make it clear that even though we are a home and an outlet for young black men, our doors are open to all students and members of the Moravian community.

That includes other Greeks, that is, the mostly-white fraternities and sororities, who support each other but somehow find their schedules magically overbooked when the College’s only black fraternity hosts an event.

Too often, it seems that students support and interact with a black fraternity only when it suits them. That includes the College, which finds our fraternity helpful in selling prospective students on the idea that Moravian is an all-inclusive campus even though it hasn’t always been supportive of our chapter.

The College seemed reluctant to even figure out how to embrace our chapter until the end of spring semester 2018, when a council board of Moravian College alumni and board of directors sat in front of my brothers and listened to their accreditation request, one every Greek organization must make. When they asked why we had left certain sections of our presentation, such as housing and campus events, blank, we told them about our experiences of the past year.

The alums and board members were stunned.

Let me give the College a little of the respect it deserves here.

After our presentation, Nicole Loyd, vice-president of Student Affairs and dean of students, started an initiative to get us a building that would serve as our chapter’s home.   

We appreciate Dean Loyd’s efforts. And we’re heartened that Greek Life leaders are starting to realize that a black fraternity on a mostly-white campus needs more support.

But the weight of the Diamond doesn’t fall on Dean Loyd, Greek Life leaders, or our advisor. It’s ours to carry: my brothers and I. We get that.

We just ask that the Moravian College community don’t be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

How?

To my fellow Moravian students, I say this on the behalf of my brothers and myself: don’t hesitate to come to our events. We will not shun you because of your race, creed or anything else that defines you, because we have had too much of that happen to us.  

To other Greeks on campus: if you want us to support you and your events, do the same for us; one hand must wash the other, and our hand is still dirty.

And finally, to the administration: we love Dean Loyd for being there and stepping up to the plate to start the movement to support us. We just ask that these initiatives lead to real changes — and that they continue.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Christkindlmarkt Gets the Community in the Christmas Spirit

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    A Festivus for the Rest of Us

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Professor Spotlight: Meg Mikovits

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Moravian Dining Services Adds Mindful Eating to the Menu

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Daniel Roebuck Discusses Bethlehem and Its Appearance in his New Movie

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Latricia Ezell: Dancing and Singing on in our Memories

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    The Root Cellar Gets a Revival

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    7 Activities To Do This Fall

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    The Comenian’s Tips for Class Registration: How to Save Time, Money, and Energy

  • The Weight of the Diamond: The Struggle of Being a Nupe on Moravian’s Campus

    Community

    Take May Term Trip to Europe

Navigate Right