Beta Omega Chi, a greek organization for men of color at Brown, was officially recognized by the University as a Greek letter organization and granted residential status Feb. 11.
What began in September 2013 as three founders and five initiates (the “starting five”) has grown to 16 members, said Jordan Ferguson ’17, vice president of Beta Omega Chi. Founders Andrew Gonzales ’16, Ahmed Elsayed ’16 and Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 came together and “founded it with the idea of creating a space on campus for men of color to cultivate a fraternal bond,” said Stephen Bozier ’17.
The fraternity was established in the tradition of the Divine Nine, a group of historically black Greek letter organizations whose members have included Martin Luther King, Jr. and Al Sharpton, Bozier said.
From its inception, Beta Omega Chi has sought official recognition from the University, as it received recognition from the state of Rhode Island in March 2014, Bozier said.
But existing unofficially has had its benefits, Ferguson said. “It was a blessing and a curse to not be recognized (by the University) because we could recruit at any point,” Ferguson said.
“We were so inspired by the mission (our founders) had to create a space on campus for black men who prioritize public service and personal development,” Bozier said.
The fraternity exemplifies this mission through its many fundraisers on campus, including a current fundraiser intended to provide clean water and medical supplies for Flint, Michigan, Bozier said.
The fraternity’s brothers “want to separate ourselves from negative frat stereotypes,” said Isaiah Edwards, ’17, president of Beta Omega Chi.
“The founders wanted to create an organization that wasn’t tainted by hazing,” Bozier said.
The Officer of Residential Life sees the official recognition of Beta Omega Chi as a positive addition to the University community. “I believe they have a great foundation, support system and drive to achieve the mission of the organization,” said Kate Tompkins, associate director for off-campus living and programs for ResLife.
Throughout the process of gaining recognition, Beta Omega Chi has been working with Tompkins to create a plan for the future, Ferguson said. They will be occupying Olney House on Wriston Quadrangle starting the fall semester of 2016, Ferguson added.
“To see the fruits of our labor come to the forefront now is special. None of the eight of us expected to be here when residential status happened,” Ferguson said.