NPHC (National Pan-Hellenic Council) sororities and fraternities at Arizona State University’s campus bring awareness through their service and stepping showcases to show their support for their community.
The “Divine Nine” is a group of African-American fraternities and sororities located on ASU’s campus. They are all rooted under the same purpose as stated on ASU’s website under NPHC’s purpose, “unanimity of thought and action as far as possible in the conduct of Greek-letter collegiate fraternities and sororities, and to consider problems of mutual interest to its member organizations.”
These organizations were all founded on Howard University’s campus which is a primarily black University. They were all rooted in the same values which include service and brother/sisterhood. These organizations add to ASU’s mission to remain diverse.
Ivory Thornton, 20, junior at ASU and majoring in social work is the President of ASU’s NPHC and came to ASU feeling very isolated when viewing the options on joining other organizations. She wanted to be president of NPHC specifically to give back to her community.
“It gives me an experience that I feel like you can’t find it anywhere else, it means a lot especially being at a predominantly white school because I get to be in an organization of women that look like me and have the same goals as me so I finally get to see those other black women on campus and in the classrooms, that want to be in their community it means a lot and shows there more women like me on campus,” Thornton said.
These organizations can provide a place for young black women and men to flourish in their college years among people with similar values and upbringings. NPHC is called home by many of these students as it provides a place for students to go to with their peers to make true and genuine connections.
Cortez Davis, 19, is a sophomore at ASU studying mechanical engineering systems and has his eyes set on working for a defense company upon graduation. He joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Incorporated in the fall of 2018 in hopes of finding his home away from home.
“My brothers give me a sense of home since I’m from Saint Louis, Missouri and that’s pretty far from here and when I get around this group of people it just feels a little bit more like I’m at home and like I’m with family so that’s important. I feel that it’s when your far away for college to somehow feel like your home or you belong somewhere.” Davis said.
One of the events that are put on by the members of the NPHC is competitions or shows featuring their signature stepping or strolling dance styles. These styles were adopted by the founders of their organizations and they carry those traditions on with pride and strength. The inspiration for these dances came from their African relatives through different ceremonies and dances. Stepping and strolling go full circle in the modern age. The organizations recently had a Yard Show on Thursday the 28th, which happens only once a school year. The show is to showcase the organizations progress throughout the semester and pay homage to their founders during black history month.
Nia Buckner, 22, is the President of ASU’s Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated Iota Kappa chapter. She is the appointed chair for stepping and strolling events. She said they practice
“Stepping and strolling give us the opportunity to be creative and you know just show the community like we do community service but we also have a good time as well. Buckner said. “Along with that stepping and strolling is very traditional in the historically black organizations each organization has their own specific movements that they do in order to signify their organization so it’s a really good opportunity.”
The work that goes into these events can often be overlooked as their routines are in sync and rehearsed. Stepping or as it’s sometimes known as; strolling can be interpreted in many different forms around college campuses but each organization stays true to its founders by adopting a chapter-wide step.
Darnell Brown is an alumnus of NPHC and now has been teaching different organizations stepping and strolling for over 10 years. His years of experience plays a part in NPHC’s values of giving back to the community. He often hosts classes for people of all walks of life to participate in. He mainly focuses on stepping and strolling but has experience in other styles of dance. Stepping is a specific style of dance adopted by NPHC organizations and has its own unique style.
“Most dances you have one person, one male one female or two males and two females however it is. It’s just two people but with stepping no there could be 3, 4, or 5 people and the person that is leading it can keep everyone engaged the whole dance.” Brown said.
NPHC is bringing culture back into all walks of Greek life on ASU’s campus. Through their programs with community service to their message of brother and sisterhood, they are providing students a piece of home on campus.
“We all have different colors and letters but we all have the same goal so I feel with us uniting more and doing what we can together I think it’s going to take NPHC to an entirely new level and it will take the “Divine Nine” to a place it’s never been before in a good way and we’ll just keep growing,” Thornton said.