Zeta Phi Beta is among the Divine Nine historic black Greek letter organizations that make up the National Panhellenic Council. Originating in 1930, the Divine Nine served as a premier organization for African-American fraternities and sororities.
The Divine Nine was founded at Howard University, helping black students find both a community and a voice.
Geneseo’s Zeta Phi Beta chapter was founded in 1979 and currently has five members. Each member holds a position on the chapter’s executive board.
English major senior Maiah Walton serves as the president of Zeta Phi Beta. Before coming to college, she was unsure about joining Greek life, but was persuaded by her friend’s mother who is also a sister of the organization.
Walton said that although she was initially unsure about joining, Zeta Phi Beta has helped her find friends for life and a sense of community on Geneseo’s campus.
“I joined Zeta Phi Beta because it’s a very big sisterhood, they have a graduate chapter upstate and before joining, the organization helped me out during a time when I was having family issues,” Walton said. “Zeta Phi Beta provides a really great sisterhood that extends both out of state and internationally, wherever you go there is always someone there looking out for you. Zeta Phi Beta is very big on community, always extending a helping hand and I love that.”
Alumnae are very active within Zeta Phi Beta. There are graduate chapters all over the country, as well as one in Rochester, which Geneseo alumnae have joined.
The women who are members of the graduate chapters help guide active chapters on college campuses, ensuring that the chapters around the county continue to grow and offer support to active sisters.
“A lot of our sisters are in the Black Student Union club,” Walton said. “There was recently a dinner [for BSU] and alumni came back to support sisters. We filled two tables of Zeta Phi Betas, our five active members and all the others were alumni.”
Zeta Phi Beta emphasizes female empowerment and holds events throughout the year that help support women. Last month, they held their annual talent show to raise money for March of Dimes, a non-profit organization that provides healthcare for mothers in need. This upcoming month, the sorority will be hosting multiple events in honor of Finer Womanhood month.
“Finer Womanhood month includes the last week of February and the entire month of March. It is all about uplifting women and doing whatever we can to help out. This year we hosted a fitness event but every year we come up with new ideas,” Walton said. “Throughout March, we will be holding multiple events and then donating the money raised to different charitable organizations.”
Zeta Phi Beta has provided Walton with security and a home during her time at Geneseo, and its emphasis on female empowerment has helped strengthen bonds with her sisters.
“Zeta Phi Beta has brought me a lot of support and self-reflection; Zeta Beta is really big on empowerment and uplifting women. I’ve never felt that I was not good enough. Everyone is different and there is no stereotype,” Walton said. “We are all so different and unique, but even with our differences we support each other so much. I don’t have a big family, but Zeta Phi Beta is my family. Having my sisters be there for me no matter what means so much to me.”