The “revolutionary” ‘70’s era was a time that was ripe for change and for daring, and so it was that 10 impassioned and dedicated African American students studying on a predominantly white campus of Western Michigan University established a new brotherhood called Phi Delta Psi. March 21, 1977 marked the creation of a Greek organization founded on the principles of manhood, honor, perseverance, leadership, achievement and true brotherhood. It was a call to courage and honor for young men who wanted to test themselves against rigorous standards and reach to new heights of achievement and the true fulfillment of their manhood. It was also a means of enfranchisement for a group of students who had hither fore not fully participated socially and politically on that campus.
By 1977, African American students found themselves at a juncture when there were questions about the relevance of their existing student organizations and how adequate they were in addressing the best interests of their members, or contributing to the betterment of their surrounding communities. Further, there was the disturbing trend of unsatisfactory academic performance; which manifested itself in increasingly low GPAs, and burgeoning numbers of college drop out rates, especially within the African American student population.
Our Founders knew that were a multitude of obstacles in their path, both external and internal. They had to face the fact that there would always be detractors both among their friends and family as well as their rivals who would try to discourage them by trying to emphasize how pointless their endeavor was. They would also have to learn as they went along, making the inevitable
mistakes inherent to any start up organization. However, our Founders had the fortitude to forge ahead in their efforts to change the status quo and overthrow the ingrained mindset that was holding back the progress of young black men on their college campus and so many others.
They visualized a Fraternity that would not only do away with the existing archaic system of pledging, that was actually little more than cruel and dangerous hazing. Their concept of Phi Delta Psi was that of a vehicle for change and empowerment for young black college men who could achieve all of the principles of successful manhood, namely; rejecting passivity, accepting responsibility, leading courageously, and continuously working towards a greater reward. In their mind’s eye, men of Phi Delta Psi would be able to balance an acute awareness of their individual potential for unlimited self improvement and service with the other social benefits that came with being part of a Greek organization on any college campus.
As such, the primary objectives of Phi Delta Psi that were outlined within our constitution are as follows to:
- Consider goals and ideas that will always be continually applicable to empowerment of enrichment of members, pertaining to our campus, social and personal lives.
- Promote superior scholarship as a basis for intellectual achievement and success in chosen career paths
- Cooperate and interact with other fraternities, sororities and other organizations with the university administration
- Direct members toward the consciousness of their lifelong responsibility of serving others
- Enhance our members’ abilities to take leadership positions within the society.
In achieving these goals, our founders envisioned that this Fraternity would extend its relevance outside the college community to effect some degree of change and improvement within the larger black community. Phi Delta Psi – the “Last to come Greatest to be”, is therefore not to be viewed as just a social fraternal family. From its inception in 1977 to the present, this concept is seen as a logical progression from individual self improvement to the larger goal of the social betterment for the masses. Education will always be the key, the proven way to break the cycle of poverty, discrimination and deprivation of our rights. Each step in the academic progression is further proof of the educability and hence leadership potential of those at the bottom rung of the so-called, “socio-economic ladder.” In tandem with educational achievement Phi Delta Psi is aware of the importance of service to others, and the need to encourage other young black men to find their path to self-actualization and success. To this end our Fraternity is involved in a number of community activities that not only address the material needs and well-being of the under-privileged and disenfranchised, but seek to offer opportunities and hope for future educational and financial advancement. Phi Delta Psi has been in existence for more than thirty (30) years and throughout our brothers have worked hard to fulfill the vision of our Founders. We have built reputations as individual men and collectively as a Fraternity for caring about each other and our community. We do not seek out “Super Men”, but concerned brothers with character that raise productive families and contribute to the enhancement of a better tomorrow. Our members have no choice but to be “leaders of men.” We are a Fraternity with an unwavering purpose and definite goal in mind. For we believe, “What we put into the lives of others, comes back into our own.”