On a Sunday night four years ago, then-LSA freshman Tony Saunders strode into the Bursley Dining Hall. The new inductee of Kappa Alpha Psi was proud to show off the Greek letters stitched into his new fraternity jacket.
That night, Saunders did not yet know how important the fraternity would become to his career of service to the University community, how it would shape his decisions or how his decisions would shape it.
“My fraternity has built a lot of who I am, probably most of it,” he said.
Saunders is the current president of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the umbrella organization for historically black fraternities and sororities on campus, of which KAPsi is a member.
Saunders is also a Michigan Student Assembly representative, one of the founders of a student-led affirmative action study group and a member of the senior honor society The Order of Angell.
Saunders is also known for the parties and dances he sets up around town, putting on events in conjunction with most of the campus’s most popular nightspots. They’re more elaborate than the beer-pong tournaments you’ll see at a few campus fraternities. And they’re for a better cause.
One of Saunders’ recent projects will be hosted by The Necto on East Liberty Street. The party is designed to draw students of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, a theme inspired by his realization that partygoers at the bashes he typically attended were mainly black. He plans to take the proceeds from cover charges and donate them to a variety of student groups on campus.
Even before college, Saunders excelled in unpredictable ways.
While at Detroit’s Cass Tech High School, he and his friend Brandon Perry started a candy business that became so successful it was shut down by the school because it was causing the vending machines to lose money.
Serving as NPHC president has even directed Saunders’s career plans. Just weeks from receiving a degree in economics, Saunders is deciding between pursuing a career in marketing or attending law school.