Greek-letter association on campus. The founding of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) chapter at Pepperdine came at a chartering luncheon for its 12 newest members Sunday, Nov. 20. The sorority continues through the University’s Tau Lambda chapter.
“[AKA] is really about empowering college women to come together and have that sisterhood,” chapter recorder Shae Collins said.
The chapter comes with a community service focus, with its mission of “service to all mankind.” Earlier this week, AKA tabled in the Waves Cafe for three days to collect unused coats, donated to the Union Station shelter in Pasadena.
Previously, the 12 members were seen working in the campus’ new organic garden. They plan to donate the harvest to the homeless community in Malibu.
The sorority is open to all backgrounds and satisfies a demand for more culture-driven school programs. Keeping with its commitment to social services,AKA fulfills this mission through six program initiatives: Emerging Young Leaders (EYL), health, global poverty, economic security, internal leadership training for external service and social justice and human rights.
Attempts to found the charter in the past have been conducted at the grassroots level, leaving the recruitment and development up to upperclassmen. Collins recalled her time as a freshman being asked if she would be interested in joining the sorority. Now a junior, she says the four-year process has ended thanks to more faculty and alumni involvement.
The true muscle, though, came from the students.
“I think the real effort came from students asking about it and saying, ‘We would like to have a historically African-American Greek letter on campus,’” Collins said.
Efforts to gauge girls’ interest and devotion to AKA in the past were thwarted by an inability to find a graduate chapter to sponsor them. Also, cost and appeal to a culture-specific sorority have constrained pools of applicants in the past.
Other concerns arise from fear a sorority touted as the “first black sorority in the United States” may be segregationist.
This is not the case.
“A lot of feedback I’ve been getting is about who can join the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority,” Collins said. “We don’t discriminate based upon race, religion, or national origin. We just want members who are willing to serve and who are dedicated.”
A press release from the sorority welcomes all “women of any race, creed or color,” and anyone who “is ready to serve the community and introduce the campus to ‘Black-Greek’ culture, tradition and life.”
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was established in 1908 on Howard University’s campus. Notable former members include Maya Angelou, Eleanor Roosevelt, Toni Morrison and Ethel Hedgeman Lyle. The sorority’s official colors are pink and green, and its symbol is the ivy leaf.