Amidst step routines and scripture recitations at the Afro-American Cultural Center last semester, the Kappa Kings Chapter of Gamma Phi Delta was born at Yale.
GPD President Dexter Upshaw ’06, who brought the Christian-based fraternity to campus, said he wanted to introduce a fraternity experience to Yale that did not compromise his values as a Christian male.
“With being a Christian organization, there comes a great responsibility,” Upshaw said. “We want to show people that you can live a life that is pleasing to God and still have fun and be social.”
Prior to the creation of Kappa Kings, many of its current members were part of the Man and Jesus in Connection Ministry, the ministry of the Black Church at Yale. Although GPD is not associated with the Black Church at Yale, it has adopted some of the MAJIC Ministry principles, including ideas of brotherhood and what it means to be a Christian man, Upshaw said.
The transition from church group to fraternity was initially met with mixed feelings, GPD Historian Secretary Yakubu Agbese ’05 said.
“When Dexter brought up the idea last year, some people were hesitant,” Agbese said. “But this year, we had a meeting when school started and began recruiting.”
Terrell Sledge ’08, who first learned about GPD at the freshman orientation program Cultural Connections, said he became involved in Kappa Kings because it was in-line with his values.
“The first couple weeks of college were overwhelming,” Sledge said. “The only way for me to keep on track based on what I valued at home was to find a circle of friends who were striving along side me for the same thing.”
Unlike at some fraternities where alcohol is integrated into the rush experience, Kappa Kings said they do not believe in hazing. The Kappa Kings call their rush period “orientation.”
“We do not haze because we don’t want to put anybody in an uncomfortable position,” Sledge said.
As an alternative to the Yale party scene, Kappa Kings holds “chill sessions” every Friday night. Chill sessions are informal, serving food and offering games, music, competitions, pool and cards.
Although the Kappa Kings identify themselves as a Christian fraternity, they said they are open to anyone who wants to join.
“The whole idea behind Gamma Phi Delta is to help people come closer to God,” Sledge said. “It’s a learning experience, a group of Christian males supporting each other in maintaining faith on a college campus.”
Upshaw said the fraternity hopes to attract more members this year to increase the current group of eight. Most recently, in an effort to work with the Christian community at Yale, the Kappa Kings participated in a gospel extravaganza at Battel Chapel on Jan 14, Sledge said.
Agbese said that as a registered fraternity, it will be easier for Kappa Kings to recruit new members and become a more solidified organization.
“We’re very unique in the way we present ourselves and interact with others on campus,” Upshaw said. “We’ve gotten a really great response so far.”
Although the Kappa Kings do not currently have a house at Yale, they hold their chill sessions all over campus, including in Morse College and at the Af-Am House.
GPD was originally founded on March 21, 1988 at the University of Texas at Austin as a Christian brotherhood and ministry for men on college campuses. Upshaw joined the national chapter of GPD at home in Texas over the past summer so that he could officially establish a Yale chapter.