Here’s what to know about historically Black Greek life at Iowa State

By Claire Hoppe | Feb 20, 2022

According to Billy Boulden, the NPHC Plaza will be opening in early April. Courtesy of the Iowa State Sorority and Fraternity Engagement website

Because of her parents, Mychyl Brown grew up knowing about historically African American Greek life.

In fact, they were both involved in the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC).

According to Iowa State’s Sorority and Fraternity Engagement website, the NPHC is a local governing organization of historically African-American fraternities and sororities.

Now a senior at Iowa State majoring in biology, Brown is the secretary for the Eta Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which is part of the NPHC.

“It’s always been important to me,” Brown said. “Everyday is about celebrating all of the work and grit our founders put into creating spaces for us to thrive, network and fellowship with one another, all while serving the bigger community.”

While knowing about and being involved with the NPHC has been steadfast for Brown most of her life, many individuals are not aware of the vast amount of sororities and fraternities that are historically African American.

According to the Iowa State Sorority and Fraternity Engagement website, Iowa State has been home to eight historically African American fraternities and sororities, which include:

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha (Sorority)
  • Delta Sigma Theta (Sorority)
  • Sigma Gamma Rho (Sorority)
  • Zeta Phi Beta (Sorority)
  • Alpha Phi Alpha (Fraternity)
  • Kappa Alpha Psi (Fraternity)
  • Omega Psi Phi (Fraternity)
  • Phi Beta Sigma (Fraternity)

“So, when I think about our historically Black fraternities and sororities … Each one of these organizations provides a unique opportunity for students to explore their identity further, to understand what their identity means and how to exist and navigate, you know, in this case, a predominately white campus,” Billy Boulden, the director of sorority and fraternity engagement at Iowa State, the dean of students for student development and leadership and the interim director of the Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, said.

“For Black students to be able to say, ‘Hey, I’m Black, and I’m great, and I’m excellent and I’m in a place that’s predominately white, and here’s other people that can explore Black excellence with me through this journey and to figure out how to navigate the university,’ that’s valuable,” Boulden said.

Joseph Putman, the president of Iowa State’s Kappa Alpha Psi chapter and senior in industrial engineering, said Black excellence plays a major role in his fraternity experience at Iowa State.

“I love all excellences, but it’s amazing at a PWI [predominately white institution] to be able to see Black men, like myself, achieve together, do great things together,” Putman said. “So with Black fraternities, having the ability to see other Blackness being successful at the same university you’re at is an amazing thing.”