Alpha Kappa Alpha welcomes new line

Adji Ostin, Jyreh Johnson, Paris Jenkins, Crystal-Candice Quaye and Tiaja Andrews stand for a photo after Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Sigma Delta chapter initiated the University of Oregon students into the sorority. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

By Sydney Padgett

In a packed and energetic room, friends, family and alumnae of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. squeezed into a small room at the University of Oregon’s Erb Memorial Union, anxiously awaiting the presentation of the sorority’s newest members. As the music subsided and the audience waited in silence, a chant could be heard from outside the room. The voices of the new line of Alpha Kappa Alphas echoed throughout the EMU. As they got closer, their rhythmic steps began to shake the floor.

Led in by their colleagues, new members of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Sigma Delta chapter step in unison and recite the sorority’s history and names of its founders during an initiation ceremony Sunday, April 21, 2019, at Erb Memorial Union in Eugene. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

The new members entered with heads down, following initiated Alpha Kappa Alphas, who were wearing all white. The new members wore green dresses with pink berets and white gloves, their eyes shielded by sunglasses.

The Sigma Delta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. welcomed five new members to their sisterhood Sunday, nearly doubling the size of their chapter and marking a significant achievement for the historically black sorority.

The National Panhellenic Conference works as a blanket organization overseeing roughly 26 traditional Greek sororities throughout Canada and the U.S. Although the sorority is a relatively small chapter compared to the Panhellenic sororities at UO, its presence in Oregon is growing.

Family, friends and people from other sororities and fraternities gather to watch new members of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Sigma Delta chapter perform during an initiation ceremony Sunday, April 21, 2019, at Erb Memorial Union in Eugene. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

“I am so excited and proud of how much work they put in. They really are a great addition to our community,” said Caitlin Roberts, the director of Fraternity and Sorority Life at the University of Oregon. According to Roberts, multicultural organizations like Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. are vital in creating communities of support for students that identify as racial minorities at UO.

Standing in perfect formation and without any hesitation, the new line of members recited in unison the dates of establishment, the founders of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. and the purpose of the sorority. Cheered on by the crowd and their soon-to-be sisters, the rest of the presentation consisted of step routines and impressively synchronized songs.

New members of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Sigma Delta chapter recite the history of the sorority and names of its founders during an initiation ceremony Sunday, April 21, 2019, at Erb Memorial Union in Eugene. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

According to Brya Patterson, the president of the multicultural sorority, this synchronicity and unity embody the profound sisterhood their sorority shares at UO and across the nation.

“I am beyond proud of these girls. It is an intense process, but they showed up and showed out,” Patterson said. “The process is the beginning and really shows our bond and how close we all are.”

Following the routines, each of the new members was introduced individually. Amid cheers and applause, members in green stepped forward one by one as her academic achievements and career aspirations were recited. Presenting first her given AKA name – an important part of the rush process – and then her real name, initiated members removed the new member’s glasses and introduced her as an AKA.

Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter member Amber Hill takes sunglasses off new colleagues to signify their promotion to official members. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

The ceremony concluded with all of the AKAs in the room singing the sorority’s national hymn in a circle.

Kendra Johnson, a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. Oregon graduate chapter came to support her newest sisters. “We always want to support the undergrads and our legacy,” Johnson said.

On a campus where only 2.3 percent of the university’s 22,760 students are black or African-American, organizations that celebrate the traditions and culture specific to historically black Greek life are invaluable to the students that identify with them.    

Tiaja Andrews dances after Alpha Kappa Alpha initiated the University of Oregon student into its Sigma Delta chapter Sunday, April 21, 2019, at Erb Memorial Union in Eugene. [Emery Thanathiti/FLUX]

According to Smartine Ostin, a friend of one of the new initiates, the multicultural sororities at UO are especially important.

“It gives them a voice of their own. Being a black woman, it gives you a community,” Ostin said.