Thursday, March 1, 2012

1934 Was Not An Easy Year For Kappa Alpha Psi

Elder Watson Diggs
The Great Depression continued to affect members of Kappa Alpha Psi. By 1934, the Fraternity initiated over three thousand men through sixty-nine chapters; however, only twenty percent of the membership were active. One explanation for inactivity is due to the high unemployment rate within the country, which made survival the highest priority.

On college campuses, the problem was no different. Fraternity members that lived within active chapter houses could not pay their rent.

The Alpha Chapter is a good example. While it looked good, fixed and fully furnished, occupants had not paid rent in over two years.

I can only imagine the challenges everyone faced during this tough time in our history. As a leader, how does one maintain an organization when everyone seems to be suffering? The Grand Chapter, while trying to determine the status of its chapters, found communicating with Province and Chapter Polemarchs difficult because individuals wouldn't respond.

At the local level, morale had sunk so low that some chapters, like Wilberforce Alumni, talked about divorcing the Grand Chapter. The frustration and confusion among members resulted in a loss of confidence in the Fraternity's ability to recover.

In response to the growing problems, the Grand Polemarch, Jesse Jerome Peters, instituted a rehabilitation program dedicated to stressing the basic principles of the Fraternity. Using a quote from Elder Watson Diggs, "A Kappaman must be good; upright, moral and manly," Peters wanted to stress that these characteristics were only given to those members who practiced them. This meant aligning oneself idealistically and financially. Without both, the Fraternity could not survive.


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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