The University community will be seeing a little more pink and green around campus with the return of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
Monday night marked the initiation of 27 new members into the Beta Eta chapter of AKA, a historically Black sorority that has been inactive on campus for the past five years. Members of other University sororities and fraternities, as well as members of other chapters of the sorority from throughout the state, attended the initiation in support of the chapter.
The ceremony, which was attended by past Beta Eta chapter members and University alumni at the Michigan League, highlighted the new members’ commitment to sisterhood and their intent to perform charitable works within the University community.
AKA undergraduate advisor Lisa Lewis said the event aimed to introduce the new members to the University community.
“This is a presentation to the University that (the members of AKA) are back on campus, and that they’re going to be seen to do wonderful community service,” Lewis said.
The ceremony began with the new AKA members marching into the League ballroom, masked with brown sunglasses and wearing pink headscarves and green sashes, while singing a traditional chapter song.
During the event, sorority members recited their purpose as an organization and several facts of their history on Michigan’s campus. They also recognized other fraternities and sororities on campus and across the state within The Divine Nine, a group of historically Black sororities and fraternities that AKA is a part of.
The Beta Eta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority was first established at the University in 1932, with a five-member entering class. According to the chapter website, the organization maintained consistent membership in the years following its initial establishment. In 2010, however, Lewis said the sorority became inactive after experiencing some difficult circumstances. She declined to disclose what specifically caused the chapter to stop accepting new membership, noting that Monday’s ceremony was presented as a “revival” to convey that the chapter would be returning to campus and moving forward.
This year’s entering class comprised 27 members, ranging from sophomore to senior undergraduate students and hailing from a variety of schools and colleges within the University.
During the ceremony, Kinesiology junior Lauren McCree, a member of the class, said she was proud to be a part of AKA’s return to campus.
“For a chapter to be gone for over five years is devastating for the University of Michigan’s campus for having such a rich history,” she said. “To make history and bring it back is something that is just indescribable.”
She also described the process of joining the sorority, which she said this year included an application and an interview, as well as a formal rush process after letters of acceptance were sent.
According to the organization’s website, prospective members must have maintained at least a C+ average to be considered for membership. Past experiences doing community service and other forms of charity are also emphasized.
McCree said the rush process ensures new members will not divulge the sorority’s secrets, a tradition that is also practiced by other organizations within The Divine Nine. New members were not allowed to tell people, outside of their close friends and family, that they were processing into the sorority.
The process, McCree added, was an important part of maintaining the value of the organization.
“You have tradition and ritual, and if you don’t respect that, then that would just lose the value of what these fraternities and sororities have worked so hard to build,” she said.
After taking center stage in the ballroom Monday night, AKA members collectively recited the purpose and values of their sorority in unison, one of which is service to the University community.
Patricia Manley, president of the AKA Delta Psi Omega graduate chapter, said the new chapter has already performed several service projects, including handing out food to the homeless in Liberty Plaza in November.
“These 27 young women, educated young women, are here to do service,” Manley said. “They’re here because they’re proud, and they’re here because they love Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.”
At the end of the ceremony, University alumni and former AKA members removed each new member’s sunglasses and headscarves as they introduced them one by one to the audience. As their names were called, each member stepped forward and recited a short speech affirming their pride in the sisterhood of the organization.
Speaking after the event, LSA junior Jalia Potter, one of the 27 women officially unveiled at Monday night’s ceremony, said she was excited to have the sorority back on campus and appreciated the event as a celebration of AKA’s culture.
“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated is back on campus,” she said. “And we’re ready to do our work.”
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated University alumni and Beta Eta chapter members hosted the event. The article has been updated to reflect this.