NPHC Plaza "critically important" part of ETSU's culture

Jonathan Roberts • Nov 2, 2019 at 10:02 PM

It’s been only two years since construction began on the National Pan-Hellenic Council plaza, but it’s been almost 50 years in the making for East Tennessee State University’s historically African American fraternities and sororities.

“This plaza will give us recognition of who we are and what we’re able to do in our community,” said NPHC President Malineski Russell. “Our organizations were founded by African Americans, so it gives us an opportunity to show who we are and have people know.”

The plaza, nestled between Governors and Centennial residence halls on ETSU’s campus, recognizes the “Divine Nine” historically African American fraternities and sororities. ETSU has been home to seven of the nine since 1971, but only five are currently active.

“This space provides a venue for all of the chapters who are part of NPHC organizations on our campus to come together to celebrate history, for traditions to be continued and for individuals to look to the future,” ETSU President Brian Noland said.

Noland said NPHC members had been planning to dedicate a landmark on campus for more than 15 years, and that having the space “is a message that diversity is critically important to this institution.”

Dozens of current faculty, alumni and current students crowded into the Reece Museum before moving outside for the official unveiling. And as each cover came off, current and former NPHC sorority members burst into song, while fraternity members chanted to celebrate.

“I think the NPHC, and the organizations that fall under the council are an incredibly important part of this campus and they need to be celebrated,” said Student Government Association President Aamir Shaikh, calling the amount of support for the plaza “beautiful.”

“It just warms my heart, because it’s just an incredible effort and we wanted the community to come together, and for all the pieces involved to be here,” Shaikh said.

To build the plaza, the project raised more than $60,000, with hopes of raising more to add an amphitheater in at a later date. For more information or to donate, visit www.etsu.edu/students/sorc/fsl/special-projects/nphc-plaza.php.

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