Months after the Afro-American Cultural Center helped revamp the fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi inducted two new members to the group on Saturday.
The new brothers — Tahj Lakey ’21 and Isaac Yearwood ’22 — stood on the steps of Sterling Memorial Library to perform the final step of their intake process. Donning masks and suits in the fraternity’s colors of crimson and cream, they performed synchronized dances, recited information about the fraternity and its founders and introduced themselves to the crowd of friends, family members and KAPsi alumni. Saturday’s event marked the fraternity’s first official Neophyte Presentation in over 10 years. Rayshawn Johnson ’21 — the fraternity’s president, called Polemarchs in KAPsi — said these presentations are celebrations that conclude the frat’s intake process. While they stem from black Greek letter organizations, they have expanded to other multicultural Greek organizations. Johnson added that he thought the new members were a good fit for the group and that he was excited that they had officially joined the fraternity.
“Our motto is ‘Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor,’ and all [members of the fraternity] take that seriously,” Johnson said. “It’s making sure that whatever you do … you’re reaching a level of excellence. I feel like that’s reflected most definitely in our two new [brothers]. Within the community, they’re really respected and well known and I’m excited to have them as bros.”
Johnson said that Saturday’s “Revival” presentation was part of a larger tradition of these Neophyte Presentations — also known as probates. He added that the fraternity focuses on community-building, public service and mentorship.
The Nu Gamma chapter of KAPsi was originally chartered at the University in 1987, but it has not cultivated sustained interest on campus. In the last decade, only one other student — Wesley Dixon ’15 — joined the fraternity and hosted his own probate. He told the News in 2013 that the fraternity had been an important part of his upbringing because his father was a member. He added that his father’s friends — who were also involved in the fraternity — were the men he looked up to most.
Kalen Beacham ’20, who joined the fraternity last semester, told the News that his father was also a member of the fraternity, which factored into his decision to join KAPsi last semester. He said that growing up, his father’s fraternity brothers inspired him because they were “men of diverse ambitions united around a common resolve to serve their communities.”
“I decided to join Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. because at a young age, I was exposed to many distinguished men of this great fraternity through my father, who is also a member of this fraternity,” Beacham wrote in an email to the News. “As a result, I desired to be around men who were better than myself — individuals who would both help me to forge strengths out of my faults and be people I could call my brothers for the rest of my life.”
Last spring, after the Afro-American Cultural Center worked to cultivate interest in the group, four male undergraduates joined — James Dennis ’22, Jalen Parks DIV ’22, Beacham and Johnson — but did not have a probate. According to Johnson, the practice was “forbidden by the province last semester.”
He added that the center “had been trying to get [the fraternity’s] presence back on campus for a while” and that last semester was a “perfect storm.” Last spring, the Afro-American Cultural Center helped combine increased interest, administrative support and the national KAPsi organization’s reissuing of Yale’s charter.
Still, KAPsi is not officially affiliated with the Afro-American Cultural Center. According to Johnson, the fraternity is working on formalizing this relationship and becoming an official organization within the Af-Am house. But, he added that not “having a space” gave the group freedom to host events in various locations across campus, such as La Casa or one of the residential college butteries.
Christian Milian ’21, a member of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity who attended Saturday’s probate, told the News that while he didn’t think multicultural Greek life was for everyone it “can fit a niche … that no other type of organization can.”
“Before joining LUL, I thought that the value of my experience at Yale would be determined by how well I could conform to the standards of the white culture in power,” Milian wrote in an email to the News. “I think many multicultural Greeks at Yale can relate to feeling as if something is missing from the overall Yale experience until we find our brothers or sisters by pledging an organization. I am excited to see how the relationship between KAPsi, LUL, and other multicultural Greek organizations evolves so that we can better bridge the gaps seen between communities of color on campus.”
KAPsi and LUL are hosting their first annual Diamonds and Gold weekend on Nov. 15 and 16.
Audrey Steinkamp | firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction, Nov. 15: A previous version of this article misspelled “Polemarch” as “pullmark.” The article has also been updated to more accurately reflect the fraternity’s intake process.