Last month, freshman Khadijah Clark considered joining a sorority on campus, but after she attended formal recruitment, Clark could not see herself fitting into any of the chapters. So she decided to create her own.
“I had went through formal recruitment for the sororities on campus and I saw a lack of diversity and I felt as though I was not really seen, as they would not be able to understand me as a person because of our differences,” Clark said. “I wanted to create a sorority space where people would be able to understand us, me, specifically, on another level.”
Sigma Theta Nu will be Knox’s first black-centered sorority. Besides aiming to volunteer in the community and showcase black culture, Clark said she and the five other co-founders of the sorority chapter want to create “a safe place for black women on this campus” Ñ a space that may not be as easily found in other sororities that are not created specifically for black women.
“Before someone even joins (Sigma Theta Nu) we can already understand each other because we have the one thing that we have in common, which is our blackness,” Clark said. “We have similar struggles because we have the color of our skin and that creates a bond right from the get-go.”
Sigma Theta Nu has not officially formed yet, which means it cannot recruit members at the moment. Still, Clark said she and the other founders have been approached by many students and other organizations on campus who want to become involved with the chapter. Clark said the sorority has begun to plan events as if it was already approved.
Earlier this month, the Sigma Theta Nu founders held a “Diversity Dinner” in the Hard Knox Cafe where they cooked fried chicken, baked mac-and-cheese and corn bread. There, the sorority received 193 signatures from students in a petition of support for the group’s formation.
“It was a huge success, it was absolutely amazing the energy, the music that we were playing in the caf. There were so many people that I remember that the staff were like, ‘Oh we’ve never had this many people before,’ and I was just so happy,” Clark said.
Until the sorority acquires their own house, most of their activities will be hosted in Taylor Lounge. Clark said they are looking to bring a hair and nail stylist to campus and as the founders represent a broad range of majors, they plan to offer tutoring as well.
While there are other communities for people of color on campus, Clark believes that organizations such as A.B.L.E have a more cultural focus, while Sigma Theta Nu would like to combine culture with philanthropic community work. This way, the sorority would work to share black culture with the Knox community while also providing services the community might need.
On top of that, Clark believes Sigma Theta Nu may provide a more intimate community of ownership between its members.
“We have other black centered institutions like A.B.L.E and Sisters of Excellence but what differs from our sorority is that it’s more Ñ it’s just us. It’s something that we can claim as our own,” Clark said. “It just gives us that beautiful sisterhood that we were looking for that probably A.B.L.E couldn’t provide.”
Once the sorority is formed, Clark will be Sigma Theta Nu’s President. However, she is creating the chapter Ñ which will not be affiliated with a national branch Ñ with five other people, who she said she has already grown to see as her sisters.
Recruitment Chair Shamecia Pullem, freshman, said before she met Clark and the other founders, she did not think she would be involved in creating a brand new sorority on campus.
“When I went to Knox, basically Greek Life was out of the question for me just because I knew there would be no black spaces,” she said. “I feel like that is why we did this, just to have another black space on campus.”
The founders plan to present before Student Senate at the end of this term or at the beginning of Spring Term. Clark believes the sorority will be established by the end of the academic year.
“Just know there’s a lot of hard work that’s being put into this and even though it may seem we’re a little bit slow at getting Sigma Theta Nu out, we’re thinking of every possibility, we’re just thinking of every little measure that we have to do,” she said. “We’re coming in at full force and we’re coming.”