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Celebrating 50 years of MU’s Omega Psi Phi Fraternity - and tackling difficult conversations in the Black community

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Chiselwa Sandala
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Members of MU’s Epsilon Delta chapter of the national Omega Psi Phi fraternity gathered with the MU NAACP for a discussion as part of Sexual Assault Awareness discussion, on Thursday, April 14, at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center on campus. The fraternity is celebrating its 50th anniversary on MU campus.

This week marks the 50th anniversary for the Epsilon Delta chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity at the University of Missouri. Begun on the campus of Howard University in 1911, the fraternity is the first international fraternal organization, according to the Omega Psi Phi website. The Epsilon Delta Chapter’s anniversary on Tuesday, April 19, comes after a celebration week featuring a variety of events hosted on campus..

The events ranged from community service to handing out free food to students on campus. But possibly the most thought-provoking event hosted was a Sexual Assault Awareness panel, hosted with MU’s NAACP chapter, on Thursday, April 14.

Nick Robins, a Fall 21 initiate of Epsilon Delta chapter, said the panel was important part of the celebration week, not only for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but also to establish Omega Psi Phi as a fraternity witness to the issue and to encourage change.

“The more we don't address it, the more it doesn't really get resolved,” said Robins. “So with that being said, our biggest goal is to find any way possible that we would like to reduce, if not eliminate, so we don't know how long that'll take. But as long as we keep trying, that's our main goal. And hopefully the biggest takeaway we get from today.”

During the event, which took place at MU’s Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center, several students came forward to talk about their experiences with harassment, coercion, and uncomfortable situations. Towards the end of the panel NAACP 2021-2022 President Chaique Jerrells related the conversation to pop culture with a viral video of American comedian Druski’s skit featuring pressuring women to drink alcohol and themes of harassment.

“The more we don't address it, the more it doesn't really get resolved,” said Robins. “So with that being said, our biggest goal is to find any way possible that we would like to reduce, if not eliminate, so we don't know how long that'll take. But as long as we keep trying, that's our main goal. And hopefully the biggest takeaway we get from today.”
Nick Robins

Jerrells posed the question to the room: “Do you think it is valid that the internet is trying to cancel Druski for making a skit on an issue that consistently happens in party culture?” The room soon filled with "no's" and raised hands expressing how Druski was touching on the issue that they feel the Black community brushes off, blending the problem into party and college culture.

Jerrells said events and discussions like this are important to the NAACP in order to create safe and connected spaces for the Black community here at MU. Especially after two years of not being able to host any in person, she said events like the panel are meaningful.

“It's really nice to actually be able to be in person, just to be able to actually communicate and see expression and emotion and people,” Jerrells said. “Not everybody hops on Zoom, and it's just a different environment when you're actually in person.”.

Robins agreed, saying it was great to get everyone involved in some way. Most importantly, he said, it was important being able to be a part of an organization that emphasizes the importance of manhood, scholarship, and uplifting the community.

For more information on the Omega Psi Phi fraternal organization, go to @Mizzouques on Instagram and Twitter, and for information on MU’s NAACP go to @munaacp on Instagram and Twitter.