72°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Guilded Gold, Charcoal Brown: Iota Phi Theta Can Drive at UMB

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc., the only social Greek organization on UMass Boston’s campus is a social-service fraternity, and their main focus is trying to put their best service food forward, and to dispel rumors about Greeks in general.

“We met all summer long, despite school not being in session, and we put together a game plan, a road map of service for the next coming year,” Mike Fitzpatrick, the Polaris, or president, of Iota Phi Theta, said. “[The food drive] is just one of the plans we made. We’ve worked in soup kitchens and the like before, but to take that a step further, we’re going to collect canned good and any non-perishable food items during the whole month of November.”

To piggyback on that drive to support the community, Iota Phi Theta is using the same donation spirit to run the Iota Clothing Drive at the beginning of December. They are going to collect decent, second-hand clothing or new clothing if it is offered, and donate those to area shelters as well.

As well as helping the Boston community, the Iota brothers are working in conjunction with Jain Rudivich-Higgins as a part of the Youth Action Team. They act like a committee that involves Harbor Point, UMass Boston and the community for the betterment of things in the area such as facilities and opening up more opportunities for youth.

“What we bring to [the Youth Action Team] is our national initiative, I.O.T.A. Youth Alliance,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a partnership with youth through programming, mentorship, stuff like that. We tutor youth on all aspects of becoming a man. Basically, they’re like junior Iotas. So, academically, socially and spiritually we try to focus on preparing them for life as a man.”

Due to the lack of support in some households, the Iota brothers feel that it is important to give the youth the attention they need, especially because of the youth violence epidemic the city is facing.

“We see that as a very, very major donation for us to give the community to give the youth the guidance they need,” Fitzpatrick said. “Being a minority frat, all of us have come from some way, shape or form of hardship. Being the fact that our community is minorities, they can come to us and see that we relate to them and that they can be in the steps that we’re in.”

Once a month, they also take part in what they call “Good Neighbor Day,” where they pick an area of the community they feel needs help in some way. The first one they organized involved them picking up trash and working on the landscape of the UMass Boston campus, and the event even drew Governor Deval Patrick to the campus.

Iota Phi Theta was established at UMass Boston at the school’s formation in 1964. However, somewhere along the line, the fraternity died out. They reactivated on campus in the spring of 2004, and have been slowly growing since.

“We’re known as Chi chapter, and in the UMass Boston chapter, there are currently 13 brothers on the yard,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ll be losing some because of graduation, but recruitment is very high this year. In the past, there were only a small number of us on campus so we weren’t really out there and seen in the public eye. When we crossed last spring, we were wearing our ‘nalia [paraphernalia], people were astonished that there was a frat on campus, especially because we’re the only social frat on campus. It’s raised awareness and we’re not having problems recruiting now.”

The fraternity was very prominent in Boston, particularly during the 70s, the time when Chancellor Keith Motley pledged at Omicron Chapter at Northeastern University. The Iotas of the Chi chapter feel honored to have Motley on campus, as he is the highest-ranking educational official Iota-wide. He was here when the chapter was resurrected, and can see how much it has grown, how many brothers they have on the yard and what they have done.

“He’s kind of like a driving force behind what we do,” Fitzpatrick said. “We want to make him proud by showing what type of organization he’s a part of. By us shining and doing the right thing and showing him how excellent life as an Iota is, that makes him look good as well and makes him proud to show off that he is an Iota. He stops and takes time to acknowledge us and even does ‘the grip’ [the Iota handshake] with us. He isn’t ashamed that we are Iotas with him; there’s always a warm reception when we see him.”

The life of an Iota is delegated by five principles: scholarship, leadership, citizenship, brotherhood and fidelity. They try to evolve most of their events and actions around those. Because the fraternity was founded in the 60s, specifically in 1963, during a time that shaped their fraternity into what it is, they do not want people who are just about the social aspects, who just want to wear the shirt and gain status.

“We want people who are about work so that, when they cross, they understand that there is a commitment to service,” Fitzpatrick said. “We are a stepping-and-strolling fraternity, but we don’t want people who just come on those terms. A lot of media and things like the movie ‘Stomp the Yard’ depict us and other orgs as us recruiting on the gains of ‘oh, he’s a good dancer; oh, he’s good at stepping; oh, he’s popular.’ We want to live by a way that dispels that. If we didn’t have our service mission, we wouldn’t be around. All of the social stuff comes after. We are Iotas and we are proud of what we do.”

Items Needed For Care PackagesFounded: Sept. 19, 1963 at Morgan State University in MarylandColors: Guilded Gold and Charcoal BrownSymbol: CentaurNickname: IotasWeb site: iotaphitheta.org (See Chi Chapter’s Facebook group)

Iota SweetheartsIota Phi Theta also has an extension called the “Iota Sweethearts.” Morgan State University staff member Audrey Brooks who was involved in much of the “behind the scenes” work for the fraternity formed this group of females who support the Iotas in whatever they do. Brooks is the “Iota Eternal Sweetheart” due to the support she gave in the fraternity’s infancy and has said that the purpose of the Iota Sweethearts is “to smile and be gracious on behalf of Iota.” Currently, there is only one Iota Sweetheart at UMass Boston, but any females interested should ask.

Sources: wikipedia.org, iotaphitheta.org