Black Greek life recognized on campus with new monuments

The ten stone monuments representing the NPHC and the Divine Nine line Kennedy Union Plaza. Photo courtesy of Zoë Hill, news editor.

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Zoë Hill | News Editor

Stone monuments honoring the ​​National Pan-Hellenic Council and its fraternities and sororities now line the walkway of Kennedy Union Plaza. 

The University of Dayton dedicated the 10 pillars to the NPHC and the Divine Nine Black Greek organizations in a ceremony held on Sept. 25 in the plaza. The dedication was simultaneously streamed online for members of the campus community to join in on the celebration. 

The project is several years in the making, with plans starting as early as 2018. Construction on the monuments began in the summer and was installed between Miriam Hall and the Science Center during Family Weekend. The area is now known as the NPHC Legacy Terrace. 

Each monument brandishes the name of one of the nine fraternities or sororities umbrellaed under the NPHC. Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, Zeta Phi Beta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Iota Phi Theta make up the recognized organizations. Five chapters are represented at UD. 

The NPHC Legacy Terrace made history as the first non-historically black college or university in the state of Ohio to erect such monuments on campus. 

UD President Eric Spina spoke at the dedication ceremony about the perseverance of the students who made the terrace possible. The recognized Greek organizations were formed as a place where the Black students found the spirit of community on a predominantly white campus, he said. 

“We are celebrating our diversity as a university and our commitment to community,” President Eric Spina said. “We’re also making a bold statement about the kind of university we are striving to be. True to the Marianist charism and the work of the Marianist, we want diversity, equity and inclusion to be the heart of our mission as we work to give a sense of belonging to all members of our campus community.”

Vice President of Student Development Bill Fischer called the terrace a “physical manifestation of the dreams and aspirations of students, alumni, and current and future NPHC members” in his speech. 

The ceremony audience heard from many more NPHC and UD community members. 

Jordyn Mitchell ’20, Alpha Kappa Alpha member, gave a tearful thank you to all who made that moment possible and reflected on her time at UD and her experience with the NPHC. 

Alexandra Smith, assistant director of fraternity and sorority life, spoke on the importance of having these monuments on campus in a time of racial tensions. 

“These monuments will not fix every problem we have in the fraternity and sorority community, not at UD, not in this country,” Smith said. “But they do serve to be the catalyst for conversation,  mending our relationships for a brighter future.”

Myanah Keys, UD’s 2021 NPHC President, was invited to the podium to share the historical commitment to community the NPHC council has demonstrated throughout the country. Delaney Kitchings, NPHC vice president, said a remembrance prayer over each fraternity and sorority chapter.

UD class of ’78 alumni and president-elect of the UD Alumni Association Sharon Howard acknowledged the University’s steps toward progress in the realm of diversity and inclusion. 

Rev. Dustin Pickett, director of Multi-Ethnic Education and Development, accompanied by Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Larry Burnley and Associate Dean of Students and executive director of the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center Merida Allen, led a libation ceremony. 

The dedication ceremony ended with ribbon cuttings for each of the Divine Nine monuments. Founding Plot Proposal Committee members that set the monument project in motion, Destiny Watson, Trey Lamar, Jordyn Mitchell, and Kenosha Robinson had the honor of cutting the ribbon draped along the 10th and final monument: the NPHC pillar. 

“These monuments represent a part of Black history,” Keys said. “The NPHC Legacy Terrace is an additional safe space for the Black community to enjoy each other and celebrate our culture.”

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