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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Omega Psi Phi re-establishes local chapter on campus after 31-year absence

The historically African-American fraternity has been in talks with administration to form a local chapter since last May.

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On April 8, four students — Cameron Maddox ’24, Joey Richmond ’24, Q Jones ’25 and Satchel Williams ’24 — took part in a new member presentation commemorating the re-establishment of a chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity on campus. The new member presentation, held outside Dartmouth Hall, “celebrated the revitalization of the Theta Beta Beta chapter that has not been active at Dartmouth for 31 years,” according to an April 10 newsletter from assistant dean of residential life and director of Greek life Josh Gamse. Theta Beta Beta is Dartmouth’s local designation from Omega Psi Phi, which attributes unique Greek lettering to each of its chapters, according to the national organization’s website.

A historically African-American fraternity, Omega Psi Phi joins three other member organizations of the National Pan-Hellenic Council — Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and Delta Sigma Theta sorority — according to the Office of Greek Life’s website. The National Pan-Hellenic Council is in charge of the “overall welfare of historically Black Greek organizations” on campus, according to its constitution.

Jones said that while the fraternity does not have a physical space on campus yet, Omega Psi Phi hopes to eventually have “some type of space” by the fall. Gamse added that the Office of Greek Life is planning to offer Omega Psi Phi an apartment in the Channing Cox or Maxwell senior apartments starting in 2024.

Gamse noted that Greek houses under the National Pan-Hellenic Organization have separate bylaws from those under the Interfraternity Council, Inter-Sorority Council and the Gender-Inclusive Greek Council, including rules and timelines for intake. Omega Psi Phi’s new member recruitment process has not yet been clearly defined, Gamse said.

According to the Omega Psi Phi national organization’s website, the fraternity was the “first international fraternal organization founded on the campus of a historically Black college.” Founded in 1911, Omega Psi Phi was established by three undergraduate students at Howard University — Edgar Amos Love, Oscar James Cooper and Frank Coleman — together with their faculty advisor Ernest Everett Just, the website added.

Jones added that the reintroduction of Omega Psi Phi at the College is especially “important” as Ernest Everett Just, a Dartmouth valedictorian from the Class of 1907, was “denied” a valedictory address by the College for being Black.

“We thought that there needs to be men of Omega on campus because of that,” Jones said. “How does [a fraternity’s] founder go to a college, and yet that college does not have [the fraternity] on campus?”

Jones said that he and Richmond became interested in re-establishing a local chapter of Omega Psi Phi on campus last year after attending a conference in Boston organized by the fraternity headquarters.

“We got to meet some of the [members of other chapters] and had a good time … we were like, ‘this energy is what we need back on campus,’” Jones said.

According to the Office of Greek Life handbook, a student group that wishes to establish a new or returning National Pan-Hellenic Council organization must submit a written petition to the Office of Greek Life. The Office of Greek Life and the national or international organization will then determine whether the petitioning group will be “viable and a healthy addition to the campus.”

Gamse said that he first met with the four students last May to discuss the possibility of re-establishing a  chapter of Omega Psi Phi. After their meeting, Gamse said he contacted representatives of Omega Psi Phi — who were “really interested in the opportunity” — and coordinated meetings between the national organization and the students, he added.

Williams said that the Office of Greek Life was “extremely helpful” and “very welcoming” throughout the process, adding that the OGL was always willing to provide support for him and the other three petitioners.

Gamse added that he is “beyond thrilled” at the re-establishment of Omega Psi Phi.

“The members have worked very hard to get the fraternity back [to the College,]” Gamse said. “The times that I’ve spent with them have been incredible.”

Williams said that Omega Psi Phi is currently planning a step show during this year’s Green Key weekend with the other National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations on campus. The organization is also planning to collaborate with the American Red Cross to hold a blood drive and other events, such as barbecues and study groups, Williams added. 

Jones also noted that Omega Psi Phi will be collaborating with Delta Sigma Theta to organize more community events.

“We want to show our enthusiasm … we’re back, we’re here for good and trying to show everyone the good side of our fraternity and bring everyone along with us,” Jones said.

Williams also said that the local chapter will take part in a district conference with other regional chapters of the fraternity from April 21 to April 23 in New Haven, Connecticut, where members will discuss how Omega Psi Phi can engage with campus communities.

“We’ve been gone [from Dartmouth] for over 30 years, so the biggest thing we have to lean on is our support system from other members of the fraternity who have been around longer than us,” Williams said.

Correction appended (April 18, 11:53 a.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the dates for Omega Psi Phi fraternity’s district conference. This article has been updated.

Correction appended (April 19, 6:23 p.m.): A previous version of this article referred to Omega Psi Phi fraternity as a local chapter of Omega Psi Phi; this article has since removed "local" to clarify that Omega Psi Phi is affiliated with a national chapter. In addition, a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Omega Psi Phi participate in rush; they participate in intake, since their process is distinct from the Interfraternity Council. Furthermore, the word “provide” has been replaced with “offer” to accurately reflect Gamse’s quote. Gender Inclusive-Greek Council, which did not appear in a previous version of this article, has now been included. This article has been updated.