Fraternity and sorority life expands

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Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was founded on Jan. 16, 1920, at Howard University. Seven Allegheny College students established the Pi Phi Chapter on Dec. 8, 2019. 

Arizona Cleaver Stemons, Myrtle Tyler Faithful, Pearl Anna Neal, Viola Tyler Goings and Fannie Pettie Watts, who are known as the “Beloved Five Founders,” founded Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and “envisioned a sorority which would direct positive change, chart a course of action for the 1920s and beyond, raise consciousness of their people, encourage the highest standards of scholastic achievement and foster a greater sense of unity among its members,” according to the sorority’s website. 

Since its founding, Zeta Phi Beta has grown to include over 125,000 women, including undergraduate, graduate and honorary members. Now, the organization includes seven Allegheny students: Ta’Tyana Whitehead, ’21, Adaobi Njoku-obi, ’20, Elisia Wright, ’21, Amahri Sullins, ’22, Rosslin Watson, ’22, Shonna Jackson-Drake, ’22, and Lola Asnin, ’21.

The process of establishing Zeta Phi Beta on campus began in 2017, with Whitehead, Asnin and Jasmine Reid-Harris, ’21, and encouragement from members of Phi Beta Sigma. 

“We did our research, and we all decided that Zeta Phi Beta fit us all individually,” Whitehead said. 

Whitehead, Asnin and Reid-Harris began by reaching out to the Board of Trustees and former Assistant Director of Student Leadership and Involvement Brittany Martin. The next step in the process was getting approval from Allegheny and Zeta Phi Beta, according to Whitehead, who currently serves as the president of the Pi Phi chapter. 

Additionally, members of Zeta Phi Beta had to find a graduate chapter to sponsor them, according to Whitehead. 

“It has been a long journey of bringing this establishment (to Allegheny),” Whitehead said.

Although the Pi Phi chapter is its own chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, Rho Sigma Zeta chapter in Erie serves as a sponsor.

“We are not a part of Rho Sigma Zeta, that is our sponsoring chapter,” Whitehead said. “We are our own different chapter. … They are just sponsoring us. They are like our advisors, but I consider them as like a mom role, because they help us in any way possible.”

Assistant Professor of Community and Justice Studies and Black Studies Heather Moore Roberson also played an essential role in bringing Zeta Phi Beta to campus, according to Whitehead. Moore Roberson now serves as the faculty advisor for Pi Phi chapter. 

The process of becoming a member of Zeta Phi Beta was “hard” and “discrete,” according to Watson. 

“The first aspect is showing interest and getting in contact with people who are already a part of Zeta Phi Beta,” Whitehead said. “After that, the ball starts rolling.”

One of the overarching goals of Zeta Phi Beta is to create a sense of unity among its members. 

“For me, to be a part of (Zeta Phi Beta) is fulfilling,” Watson said. “I never was very interested in (Sorority and Fraternity life), but once I joined, it kind of filled a void that I didn’t know I had.”

Zeta Phi Beta also strives to promote “positive change.” Over the past 80 years, the organization has formed a number of community-based partnerships, including Stork’s Nest, Zeta Prematurity Awareness Program, Adopt-a-School and many others. 

“This is a lifelong commitment that we’ve made,” Wright said. “All of the connections I have made with other people within the organization and the impact that we have on the community around us really means a lot to me.” 

Although Whitehead knows she has hard work ahead of her, she is excited to continue in her role as president of the Pi Phi chapter, and hopes to create a better understanding of the organization on Allegheny’s campus. 

“Some people do believe that (Zeta Phi Beta) is only for African American people or minority students, and that is not the case,” Whitehead said. “We accept anybody in any shape or form, however you identify yourself.” 

The newest members of the Pi Phi chapter will be revealed on Sunday, April 5.