Wednesday, February 22, 2012

History of Kappa Alpha Psi: 1927 - 1929

Over the past few weeks, I've been working through the history of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. in an effort to build out chapter two of my dissertation. Looking back, the articles have been rather sterile (factual but without emotion). That's cool, I suppose. It's just that I'm not sharing some of the gems I find nor am I relating it to anything I'm currently dealing with in the organization. In this article, I would like to change that.

Moving forward, I would like to continue writing the dissertation one blog at a time, but use the articles to also share my own thoughts on the matter. Now, when I write the dissertation it will ignore the extra commentary. Is that cool?

When I last wrote, my focus was on the years between 1922 and 1925. In this article, I plan to move forward from there.

Between the years 1927 and 1929, the fraternity continued to deal with a number of issues related to race and  campus housing. With a history of slavery and racial inequality, African-American's during the early 1900's were not exempt from the segregation and lack of opportunities afforded to other college students of that time.

In an article written for the March 1927 edition of the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal, Rufus Kuykendall describes the conditions at Indiana University. He explained that "Negro" students payed their state taxes but were not offered all the conveniences provided during a college education. One example cited referenced exclusion from the local Panhellenic Council. Kappa Alpha Psi, according to Indiana law, should be recognized by the organization, but it was not.

Kuykendall continued to list other examples where the color of ones skin limited a student's participation in the band, Reserve Officer Training Corps, or campus swimming pool. It is through this kind of environment, both on campus and off, that African-American's had to work harder in order to achieve in life.

As undergraduate students, many African-American's lacked the financial resources to afford suitable housing. One benefit of membership in Kappa Alpha Psi was the financial assistance provided by members to secure adequate funding. By 1929, members at the Alpha Chapter (Indiana University) still struggled with paying their bills. Part of the problem was lack of financial resources but also an attitude of entitlement by some in the brotherhood.

The attitude of entitlement at the Alpha Chapter was not unique. In fact, other members across the fraternity began acting in ways that put the fraternity at risk. During Province Councils, some members wanted to end  the Guide Right program. Additionally, the organization failed to increase financial and active members. Any achievement recognized by the fraternity was due to the "faithful few."


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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