In an effort to highlight the young leaders who are leading undergraduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Upsilon Gamma Chapter at the University of Richmond and did an interview with Joshua Anderson the president of the chapter.
The position of president of an undergraduate chapter of a Black fraternity is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. 21-year-old Joshua Anderson has used the position to gain new leadership experience, improve the lives of other students on campus and help the community around him.
We interviewed the Leadership major and talked about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold a leadership position on campus in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
The Unbreakable Upsilon Gamma Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc has been on the campus of the University of Richmond since Saturday July 18th, 2009. Although it is a relatively young chapter, the traditions and precedents that have been set make being president of this chapter an honor. To me, being a president means stepping out of my comfort zone, challenging myself, while being an advocate for my community. The biggest contribution that being a president provided me is immediate growth. As a president of a historically black Greek organization at a PWI, it is sometimes hard to be progressive, but with the help of my brothers and an unfaltering support system, we have surpassed university expectations. The opportunity to be innovative and create new insightful programs, while upholding the legacy of all the brothers who crossed before me is essential in my personal development.
What made you decide to attend the University of Richmond for undergrad?
Football prompted my decision to attend the University of Richmond. When I received a scholarship to attend the University of Richmond, a school that could develop me physically and intellectually, I knew where I wanted to spend the next 4 years of my life.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
We have revamped our initiatives to enlighten our campus and the Richmond community about mental health, while progressively upholding the values of our jewels. We promoted a White Ribbon Campaign (Ending Violence Against Women) with different organizations on campus, as well as had a panel discussion around male privilege and challenging gender norms, prompting more conversations about violence. We also participated in an Inclusivity Seminar, with all the athletes and Greek lettered organizations on campus. With this, despite our differences, we helped enlighten the University community about common identities amongst us all. Community service has been an initiative that we have really pushed in the past year. We have attended back to school events, and we service an inner city high school, were we consistently have an after-school program. We have our own curriculum and we are paired with an ACT/SAT prep program to help our mentees.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated for multiple reasons, here are two of the most important reasons. What attracted my immediate attention was how close everyone in the brotherhood was. As a former student athlete, I know about bonding together to accomplish a common goal, but along with all the programs they were running on campus the relationships within the brotherhood just seemed so genuine. Even when other brothers from other campuses would come visit there was a sense of community. The second reason was the presence that the Alphas had on campus. When you looked at the leaders of the student organizations on the campus you saw men of Alpha. They held themselves to a higher standard and accomplished the things that needed to be accomplished.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Our chapter being at a small, private PWI gives us the ability to truly resonate with the Jewels of our fraternity. By no means am I stating that we face the same civil oppression and bigotry that the Jewels faced in their time period, but the restrictions and the demographics of the Universities are very similar. It forces us to be as close as possible, promoting community, brotherhood, service, and a commitment to excel and graduate by any means necessary. Our youth as a chapter also makes us unique, because it allows us to be as innovative as possible.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
Have a unique and active social media presence. There needs to be a marketing team pushing events, accomplishments and different types of service programs. In a digital age, at a PWI (as many people will tell you) people do not know about the Divine 9 Greek organizations. Today, social interactions are more prevalent through social media, so if your chapter cannot afford to have a mixer introducing your organization to the entire school, you should do introductions of each member of the chapter at the beginning of the year. Along with the introductions, there should be frequent posts about the history of your organization and the esteemed members of the organization. Also, do not be afraid to post strolls, steps, and pictures wearing paraphernalia on the chapter and on personal social media pages.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is the ability to respond in all types of situations, while influencing a group of people in times of comfort and in moments of discomfort, loss, or oppression. Leadership can be shown in times of comfort and convenience, but leadership is truly acknowledged when someone ascends during moments of discomfort, loss, or oppression. A leader is someone that people look to for answers. When someone responds in a way that is either relatable, to the feelings of other spectators, or has some sort of impact towards the opposing situation, people tend to follow that person. The dynamic between leaders and followers is an alliance that is based on ability and relationships. A leader has to have an ability to respond to different situations while altering the relations of the people being lead with deception or an appeal to actual progress. Different circumstances will determine or develop different leadership styles. Whether the response to a situation is emotional, strategic, or aggressive depends on the traits and behavior of the individual leading.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to black greekdom because it provides a positive outlook to what it truly means to be Greek. Media portrayal of Greek life in general is negative and with all the current legislation surrounding it (Ex: HB 2042, Tennessee bill that would ban Greek life from being recognized by, associated with, or operating on the campus of, any state institution of higher education), from an outsider prospective, it does not seem like it is getting any better. That is why Watch the Yard is so important, not only do they show amazing pictures and strolls, they provide historical context, prolific members of Divine 9 and National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations, community service programs, job advice, and new initiatives supporting college and alumni chapters worldwide. Watch the Yard uses their platform in this digital age to promote Greek Excellence at its finest.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood, to me, is a bond rooted in love and consistent development. Brotherhood has spectrum of involvement. At one end it is the epitome of fun and adoration. Where strolling, stepping, singing, and all-around bonding are factors. The other end of the spectrum is where the true brotherhood persists. When someone is not acting or performing to the best of their abilities and they need to hear about it. When understanding and honesty overrule pride and fragile male masculinity that’s is true brotherhood. Having a shoulder to cry on or an accountability partner to help you when times get rough. A true friend in the deepest sense of the word.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I will go to Physician’s Assistant school, pass the PANCE exam and become a certified Physician’s Assistant. I don’t necessarily know where my journey will take me after that, but I do know that whatever I do I will continue to service my community in every way possible.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Joshua Anderson for his work as the president of Upsilon Gamma Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2009.