Fraternity’s traditional ceremony pushes new members to challenge

By Allison Loverher

“Doomsday,” for Alpha Phi Alpha, requires strength and camaraderie as a group.

On Thursday night, members of the fraternity held their semi-annual Death March. The traditional ceremony, performed at NIU since 1964, welcomes and celebrates the new members joining the chapter.

The ceremony represents one of the final challenges for the members — carrying a coffin from Stevenson Towers North to the King Memorial Commons. While carrying the coffin, the new members had seven bricks hanging around their necks. The seven bricks represent the seven jewels, or founders, of Alpha Phi Alpha and the fraternity’s strong foundation.

Once they reached the MLK Commons, they destroyed the coffin, smashing it with their feet and hands.

“The journey to Alpha is long and hard, and only the strong will make it,” senior communication major Rod Moyer said.

The coffin represents the struggles the founders went through in 1906 as black students at Cornell University.

Reflecting back on his first Death March, junior Karega Harris said, “It was new. It was an experience to remember. Nothing is hard when you put your mind to it. I’m thankful to be a member of the fraternity.”

Alpha Phi Alpha president Troy Caldwell agreed.

“Being president of the chapter is something I take pride in,” Caldwell said. “It gives the campus a chance to witness and congratulate the new brothers in the organization.

“It is distinctive, and it separates us from the other organizations. We are extremely proud of our heritage and history. We want to show throughout the campus and community how proud we are of our heritage and history and to congratulate the new members of the fraternity.”