On a beautiful fall day during Homecoming 2016, the University of Iowa became the first Big Ten school to dedicate plots to the "Divine Nine," the nine, historically, black and multicultural fraternities and sororities of the National Pan-Hellenic (NPH) Council.
"The University of Iowa has a rich history of NPH chapters on campus," says Erin McHale, assistant director for Fraternity & Sorority Life. "It was extremely important for the university to recognize the value and presence these groups have on campus especially at a predominantly white institution."
The Divine Nine plots at the University of Iowa are near the Danforth Chapel in Hubbard Park, a place of significance for some of the chapters of NPHC. Historically, plots are located in spaces on campus where chapter members congregate, celebrate, and give fellowship to one another, and Bill Nelson, executive director of the IMU, wanted to ensure that the plots were placed at a location that had meaning to NPH chapters.
Seven of the Divine Nine chapters are currently active on campus. Students involved in active Divine Nine chapters shared their thoughts on the plots.
“The Divine Nine Plots being placed on this campus is a momentous achievement. Often, black student organizations in general are overlooked. But with the plots, black greek organizations, and our place on this campus, is solidified, and serves as a way of showing the University community that we are here and that we have a rich history that includes service, academic excellence and leadership.”
-Fredrick Cherry Jr. Alpha Phi Alpha
“The significance of the Divine Nine is to showcase the history of the National Pan-Hellenic Council on this campus as well as demonstrate that our organizations are an integral part of Fraternity and Sorority Life here at Iowa. Also, it solidifies a sense of belonging here on this campus to our organizations by demonstrating that we deserve to be here just as much as the other councils.”
- Gabrielle Young, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
“The Divine Nine plots are something that was long overdue on our campus. The National Panhellenic community has over a hundred years of history on this campus and there is still so much that is unknown about our legacy here. These plots allowed us to have a new visibility that shows that we are a part of what makes the University of Iowa such a beautiful place. We are extremely proud of these monuments, however we understand that this is just the beginning of weaving historically black fraternities and sororities into the the fabric of this university.”
- JaMaya Austin, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.