By Emily Guerra
Finding a Greek council to sponsor their organization was an obstacle for the five original women of the Nu Iota chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.
“After being turned down membership into [the Panhellenic Council], they decided to turn this negative experience into something positive and become the leaders they knew they were,” Connie Green, Zeta Phi Beta president, said.
On Nov. 2, 1979, the women received the charter for their group, which became the first of seven National Pan-Hellenic Council groups chartered at Baylor. The council represents nine historically African American fraternities and sororities.
“A major goal for the Zeta women was to build relationships not only with NPHC members, but with members in all councils,” she said.
Green said she takes pride in striving for that unity today.
Each semester, Zeta Phi Beta hosts a week called “Zeta Week,” where they partner with other Greek organizations to connect the Greek community and build relationships for the future. In the fall of 2011, Zeta Phi Beta had a movie night with Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha and a Zumba class with Multicultural Greek Council sorority Gamma Alpha Omega.
“Zeta Phi Beta is an organization that upholds organizational values and strives to do better for themselves,” Astrid Beltran, coordinator for Greek Life and Chapter Development, said. “They really do want to make an impact on Baylor community, and make those connections through events they put on.”
Green said she believes one Zeta event has broken more barriers in the Greek community than any other Greek event: StompFest.
Since 2001, StompFest has grown from one night to two nights, and from only a few participants from various organizations to more than a dozen groups with many more participants.
“Stepping helps other Greek and student organizations find common ground with us,” Green said.
Zeta also tries to connect with the Greek community by coaching the Stomp Fest participants.
“We work with so many people of different backgrounds, and we keep those relationships after Stomp,” Green said.
San Antonio senior Erica Barretto, the cultural chair for Alpha Chi Omega, participated in StompFest with members of her sorority.
The group’s StompFest coach was Jasmine Nkrumah, Zeta vice president, who Barretto said was “a blessing” and “ideal to work with.”
“Beyond that, she is a power-house both in and out of her involvement in her sorority,” Barretto wrote in an email.
In further efforts to bring unity to the Greek community, the chapter began hosting a forum called “Both Sides of the Tracks” this semester.
Its purpose is to break barriers of class, status and race in councils, Green said, adding that we are all “more alike than we think.”
“We all go to Baylor, we are all here for the same purpose and should get to know each other better,” she said.