National Pan-Hellenic Council creates a space for African American students


Members of the NPHC celebrate breaking the grounds of the NPHC Plaza, which will be finished this month. Construction of the plaza is currently taking place outside the Memorial Union.

Olivia Jackovin

The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is dedicated to creating a space and helping people within the African American community and beyond.

The council was originally founded on May 10, 1930, by five Greek organizations that are still in the council today. Four more organizations joined, forming the “Divine Nine.” Iowa State’s NPHC includes two of the fraternities and all four of the sororities in the Divine Nine.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council was the first culturally-based Greek organization, composed of non-historic African American fraternities and sororities. In the 1900s, when the council was created, that was unheard of. 

“During that time people of color were not allowed in certain spaces, so we created our own space, starting with our own fraternities and sororities and then creating our own council,” shared Jonathan Hall, the president of the Pan-Hellenic Council at Iowa State and a senior in civil engineering.

Hall originally did not want to get involved with Greek life. It was not until a former student at Iowa State took him under his wing as his make-shift assistant that something inside Hall was sparked, and it inspired him to make a change. 

He saw how revolutionary the council has been in the past and how much it had helped the community.

“I did my research… looking at the historic and notable people that are in NPHC that actually helped shape American history… it was a strong feeling within me, it was kind of like I’m on the right path,” Hall said.

The National Pan-Hellenic Council does not just focus on donating money. Members are constantly in the community helping out in soup kitchens, housing organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, working hands-on in thrift shops and more within the community. 

Every chapter inside the organization hosts its own scholarship competition or pageant to provide tuition funding for students to pursue higher education, as well as providing funding for students here on a collegiate level. 

The council also brings in trained professionals such as doctors, therapists and psychiatrists and provides programming to the community as topics such as mental and physical health are rarely talked about. 

The National Pan-Hellenic Council Plaza is currently being built on campus right outside the Memorial Union and will help educate on the importance of the NPHC. 

The plaza will include many colors, symbols and plaques dedicated to each of the nine fraternities and sororities within the organization. It is set to be completed in October of 2021.

Anyone interested in getting involved with NPHC can contact the council or a chapter member in the council. For more information, visit National Pan-Hellenic Council ISU.