Photo courtesy of Brandon Iracks-Edelin (C’18)
By Abby Garmon
Sometimes, amidst Sewanee’s heavily social culture, the service-based focus of fraternities can feel lost. The newest fraternity on campus, Omega Psi Phi, is a great addition to campus because this group brings a new, progressive outlook on what it means to be a fraternity.
Brandon Iracks-Edelin (C’18) and Kirk Murphy (C’17), two of the Sewanee chapter’s founding members, explained in an interview the values of Omega Psi Phi and the ways in which the organization is bettering the school. “I feel like one thing that sets us apart is that a lot of people look at fraternities as a group to be a part of, and that’s fine for certain people, but we look at Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated as a lifestyle.” Murphy explains, “We stand by four cardinal principles: manhood, scholarship, perseverance, and uplift. We try each day to be the best men we can be.” The men of Omega have high expectations for their organization and plan to take advantage of their position by making positive changes.
Iracks-Edelin adds, “Everything we do is with purpose and intention. We just want to make this campus better, and we want to learn together. We know we’re not perfect, but we’re always striving to make improvements.”
Omega Psi Phi is adding a new dimension to Greek life here on the domain by focusing heavily on academics and community service. This semester, the fraternity has already helped to spread breast cancer awareness by making flower pins for students and faculty to wear in honor of the cause. They have also implemented “Manhood Monday,” a weekly tradition that encourages men to look and act their best. Iracks-Edelin recalls, “We recently did an event called ‘Tie for Tie’. This past Monday we decided to teach people, both men and women, how to tie bowties and neckties. From there, they could exchange ties, or they could buy ties. We had a really positive reaction.”
Omega is set apart by its membership in the divine nine, a group of historically black fraternities and sororities. Coming to Sewanee, the men of Omega Psi Phi are encouraging diversity and openness and helping the school to embody these principles. “We understood that there has never been an national black Greek organization on this campus, and that was a motivating factor. We didn’t want to just think about ourselves, but we wanted to think about what would it do for other minority students.” Murphy says. He goes on to describe the positive impacts that Omega will have on the school. “We’re looking to build friendships among other minorities and among people who aren’t minorities. Our goal is to keep transforming this campus into the best place it can possibly be. It’s never just about us, it’s about what can we do to make Sewanee better.”