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Get to Know UTEP’s Black Greek Letter Organizations

Aaron J. Montes
Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma and Zeta Phi Beta. From left to right; Angela Wooley, UTEP alumni; Miguel Candelaria, sophomore engineering major; Shequela Whitt, sophomore nursing major; James Boyd, junior criminal justice major; Isela Speights, sophomore general business major; Cedric Howard, sophomore nursing major; Sabrina Clemmer, senior multidisciplinary studies major; and Marquis Whitt, sophomore computer science major.

The first week of school is the prime time to attract students to join one of the many Greek organizations on campus. However, in a predominately Hispanic university, black Greek letter organizations may go unconsidered by students.

There are three BGLOs at UTEP that are part of the Divine Nine, a historic group of nine BGLOs that date back to the early 90s. A majority of these organizations were founded at Howard University in Washington D.C.

“Historically, they started off as just being black organizations,” said Courtney Becerril, senior biology/biomedical major and president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. “It wasn’t really in a discriminatory way. They originated at historically black colleges and universities. You can just imagine that the racial climate was really different at that time.  So that’s how things started, but they’ve grown and expanded into something much larger.”

The other BGLOs at UTEP that are included in the Divine Nine include the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and its sister sorority, Zeta Phi Beta.

Although the majority of the members are black, they are open to everyone.

“We are multicultural,” said James Boyd, junior criminal justice major and president of Phi Beta Sigma. “A lot of people think we’re not multicultural but we are.”

Junior electrical engineering major Miguel Candelaria is one Hispanic student who decided to step outside the box. After speaking with members of Phi Beta Sigma and doing his own research, he decided to go through the process to become a member and joined in the spring semester.

“A lot of people are actually starting to show up and see that it’s not just a black fraternity,” Candelaria said. “They see that I’m there… a lot of people are showing more interest now that they know.”

Students in these organizations have frequent friendly encounters with student athletes. Tuesday morning, Kevin Perry, senior tight end on UTEP’s football team, stopped by with the Phi Beta Sigma’s and Zeta Phi Beta’s.

Jenzel Nash, sophomore guard on UTEP’s women’s basketball team, visited members of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

“(Phi Beta Sigma) have in the past had members in the (UTEP) football team but they graduated or they transferred to different schools,” Boyd said. “We talk to a lot of athletes because we go out and support them.”

Their numbers in membership isn’t as vast as the other Greek organizations on campus. The Zeta Phi Beta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities have two members each. The Phi Beta Sigma fraternity currently has 11 active members.

“If we pledge just anybody, it’s like we don’t know who that person is,” said Isela Speights, sophomore general business major and president of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. “If they’re trouble makers, we don’t want that reputation to reflect on us.”

These organizations build up their members on community service, scholarship and leadership skills.

“You don’t need a lot of members to have a close bond with somebody, in a sense too, it’s easier to control first of all,” Boyd said.

He also said it also allows members to get better acquainted.

The organizations will be hosting its second-annual Step Show at 7 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the UTEP Union Cinema.

Kristopher Rivera may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Kristopher Rivera
Kristopher Rivera, Copy Editor
At the beginning of Kristopher Rivera’s sophomore year, he was sitting in a psychology course, pondering his future in regards to a career. He questioned if he really wanted to pursue a career in psychology, which was his major at the time. Feeling uncertain, he began to think of how one decision at that moment would shift everything about his future. He seemed to do well when it came to writing, and he enjoyed reading about bands in magazines such as Alternative Press, Rolling Stone and SPIN. So then he did some research and found that journalism was the way to go. Now, Rivera, senior multimedia journalism major, is scheduled to graduate this fall. It’s also marks his third year with the Prospector. He’s covered stories in sports, entertainment and news. In between some time at the Prospector, Rivera landed two internships. He spent his fall 2012 semester in Washington D.C. as an intern reporter for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Many UTEP students like him have had the privilege to go experience living at the nation’s capital. He covered stories in the area, and saw political figures such as President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Rivera also had a nice opportunity to see the Who at the National Press Club, where they talked about their organization to help children with cancer. This summer Rivera was in Sacramento, Calif. working as an intern reporter for the Sacramento Bee newspaper. He had the opportunity to cover all kinds of stories such as a homicide, community events, major league baseball games—specifically the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, and he had some opportunities to work on some music features. He interviewed Ellie Goulding, Cedric Bixler-Zavala (the Mars Volta/At the Drive-In), Randy Ebright of Molotov and a few other artists. Rivera said he’s been blessed to have these opportunities, and it all started at the Prospector. Rivera is also a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
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    Ashley FigueroaMay 4, 2017 at 9:02 PM

    I will be a new student in August and I want to pledge.

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Get to Know UTEP’s Black Greek Letter Organizations