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 Beta Chapter at Christopher Newport University and did an interview with Quentin Watts 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 Quentin Watts 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 Political Science 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 old adage “with great power comes great responsibility” comes to mind. The confidence and good faith that my Brothers placed in me to lead them is what gives me that power. I use that power to impact my local community and help my brothers grow as individuals so that Alpha may also improve. My actions and the way I conduct myself set the tone for both my Brothers and those who view us from the outside looking in. It’s really a blessing and a curse. I have grown so much more responsible in daily life because I understand that it’s not just about me anymore. I have an entire brotherhood that relies on me to always be great. However, that responsibility that grows you, can also drain you if you let it. I want to be remembered as the President who changed the game and not just one who kept the ship afloat. What I learned most from my Presidency was to invest energy in only things that would lead to genuine joy and satisfaction, to be adaptable so I wouldn’t get caught up in every situation that went sour, only concern myself with what I could control, and most importantly that I must practice patience. The patience to understand my fellow man and to see things through no matter the obstacle.
What made you decide to attend Christopher Newport University for undergrad?
My parents, my mother specifically, raved about how much of a great fit Christopher Newport University would be for me. At the time it was an up and coming school academically, small campus, and monetarily more flexible than most schools in VA. I also had an independent scholarship that required me to stay in VA for school in order to receive the funds.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
We plan to continue many past initiatives with a splash of innovation. Many of our past endeavors have impacted our surrounding community but we hope to switch or focus more towards our campus this upcoming year. We plan to continue our recent trend of 15+ community service hours minimum per brother for each semester. This may seem low, but with a chapter of only 4 brothers who are heavily involved in other initiatives this means a great deal to us. We also plan to help facilitate our schools first NPHC Black History Month initiative where each organization on campus (We only have 3) has a designated week where they host an event significant to the theme. My chapters event will be the called the BLACK Arts Showcase. This will be a space where Black History is celebrated through the performance of many talented singers, poets, and dancers. The month will be capped off by the second ever NPHC Yard Show. Later in the year we will likely conduct our Bald For a Cause alopecia awareness event where we encourage students to shave their heads/donate funds for the cause and our annual voter advocacy event known as “Stroll to the Polls”. Last year, we raised over $9,000 for both our chapter and March of Dimes combined in addition to encouraging our student body to vote during the midterms. Much of the funds the chapter has accrued will go towards improving our programming and donating to additional charitable cause involving disease funding and education.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
I knew absolutely nothing about greek life; especially the existence of BGLO’s. When I was un-affiliated, I considered joining a Fraternity as a Freshman but none of the predominantly white fraternities that I was exposed to embodied the principles I was looking for. When I began to notice the Alphas on campus I saw how they were truly role models to the student body, touched lives, and showed everyone at my PWI the greatness that a powerful group of Black Men could achieve. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and be around people focused on bettering one another. I felt Alpha would mold me into the individual I always wanted to be and that maybe some of that greatness I saw would rub off on me. I wanted to reach heights that I could never imagine. The persistent and genuine manner in which an Alpha Man impacted the community, in addition to the principle of lifelong brotherhood, really resonated with me. I really knew this path was for me as soon as I started researching Divine 9 Fraternities and saw that even MLK saw the light of Alpha as something valuable. I saw Alpha as a life-changing decision for the better.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
We always find a way no matter the circumstance. We’ve always been a small chapter. Sometimes we may not receive the resources we need, live up to our standards, plan well, or always live up to what the community expects of us. But we always see everything through and make the most of bad situations. We are problem solvers. We thrive when we are under pressure and being adaptable is the only option.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think undergraduate chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2018?
I think organizations should focus on Instagram and Facebook as mediums to promote themselves online. Using hashtags, going on following sprees, and social media challenges can go a long way towards increasing exposure on these platforms. Always look for new content to post outside of just flyers or some type of advertisement. Highlight Brothers, share chapter history, or even posting what the national Fraternity is doing. Keeping up a steady stream of content is extremely important. Being Professional is also something chapters need to pay attention to. Captions should be clear, concise, and well thought out. Flyers or any type of music should also be clean and refrain from any explicit content. Paying attention to these type of things will go a long way towards dispelling negative stereotypes associated with black greeks.
What does leadership mean to you?
To be a leader is to be selfless and to realize the importance of interpersonal connection. Without personal investment between a leader and those one is leading; the group will never be able to reach its full potential. A leader pushes those being led to transcend their limitations. A leader must have a vision that can be expanded outside of just the mind of the leader into something molded by every individual member of the group. A leader makes sure everyone feels heard. A leader is adaptable to any situation and open to new possibilities even if old methods have been working fine. A leader is timely and sets the pace. Leaders take the brunt of the blame and bestow praise upon the group when accomplishments are achieved. But, most importantly, a leader never gives up on his people and adheres to what they value. Leaders understand that they are a servant to their people and the cause not to themselves.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard shows the world what Black Greekdom is all about. It shows that we are more than pledging, strolls, and parties. Our commitment to the community and to each other is what Watch the Yard consistently puts on display. It also serves to connect Greeks across both organizational and geographical lines. Watch the Yard is truly a uniting force that provides a platform for Black Greeks to celebrate the culture. A community truly for us and by us.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood means understanding, compassion, and sacrifice. Brotherhood persists when most would fold and transcends the test of time. A Brother is always there lending a helping had, seeks to better you, and accepts you for who you truly are. Unconditional love is at its foundation. True brotherhood is about integrity and the ability to be honest with each other based in love, not malice. No Brotherhood can thrive without trust.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I plan to attend graduate school to study Public Policy. I want to become an elected official and become involved in political campaigns. I also plan to start a Youtube/Podcast channel, a political think tank, and blog space where millennials can freely discuss politics. The Youtube/Podcast channel is especially a big goal for me because most news media of today is heavily politicized to the point of being borderline propaganda. I want to provide objective and truthful content based on well-research conclusions drawn from a diverse background of ideologies.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Quentin Watts for his work as the president of Upsilon Beta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2009.
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