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 Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s Gamma Beta Chapter at Western Michigan and did an interview with Cameron Barnes 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. 22-year-old Cameron Barnes 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 Sales and Business Marketing 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?
For me I feel like it is an honor to be the Polemarch of the Gamma Beta chapter. It means that the brothers trusted me enough to guide us in the right direction and lead them to our goals. I know that every decision I make is a representation of the chapter. So when I decide to do something I make sure that it is what’s best for the chapter and not just in the present, but also the future. I appreciate all the opportunities and relationships I have been able to make since becoming the Polemarch.
What made you decide to attend Western Michigan University for undergrad?
I decided to attend Western Michigan University because of three main reasons. The first reason was the distance from my hometown. It was two hours from my family so it wasn’t too close or too far. I wanted to be able to come home when I needed, but not too close where I would come home too often. The second reason was because one of my older friends from high school was transferring here and said it would be good to go to a school where I knew someone. The 3rd reason was for the great sales and business program they have here at WMU.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the campus/surrounding community?
We are doing an initiative called “ride to the polls” where we give voters a ride to and from the voting polls. This is making sure that there is no excuse for people to get out and vote. This will also make it easier for people who don’t have a car to get to the polls. We also are making sure to be available to different members of the community to volunteer whenever they need our services. We are mentoring at high schools as well as helping out churches.
What made you want to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi?
When I got to Western, I noticed the influence that the different greeks had on campus. But it wasn’t until I seen the Nupes that I really started to paying attention. I felt like they fit my personality and represented themselves in a positive light. They were always dressing like they were handling business. Also the brothers on the yard were doing many great things. After noticing all these things I reached out to my cousin who is a Kappa from the Delta chapter and he told me all the positive benefits he received from joining the great bond. I decided that I wanted to join the Gamma Beta chapter and be able to better myself. So that in the future I would be able to make a difference on campus and mentor future generations to achieve as black men.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
What makes the Gamma Beta “Gangster Chapter” so unique is the great bond we have with each other. The brothers come back for all the events such as: Graduations, Homecoming, Scholarship Balls, etc. We also have brothers all over the country always willing to lend a hand or open their homes when we are in town. We helped found the Epsilon Tau chapter and just help bring back the Alpha Beta chapter. We pride ourselves on being the “Pride of the Northern Province” and look to uphold this at all levels. Whether its doing community service, throwing great events, or performing in shows we always look to do our best.
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 feel like chapters need to take advantage of how great of a tool social media is. Especially with all the negative stereotypes on fraternities and sororities we have to show them the good side. We have to show them us volunteering in the community and mentoring students. We have to be on all the different platforms promoting our events and the different ways we are involved on campus. It is important to make sure people are aware of the positive things that greeks are doing.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me leadership is being able to get people to want to follow you. Being a good leader is someone who does what is best for the group. A leader focuses on bringing out the strengths in everyone around them and improving their weaknesses. Being a leader you have to be able to lead by example and gain the respect of others.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Being able to expose all the good black Greeks do for their campus and community. The idea of the D9 has been heavily misconstrued over the years and having a platform like Watch The Yard to show how much of an impact black greekdom has on a campus and community gives people a deeper look into all the work that goes into making a chapter successful.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
The brotherhood to me means being able to always count on someone through the good and the bad times. Having a real brother is knowing they will always have your back, but also will know when to pull you aside when you’re messing up and need to improve. I seen great sides of the brotherhood when I went down to Florida for an internship and was able to reach out to the nupes at FGCU and was treated like I was from their chapter. No matter where you go the upes are always there for you and it is a great part of the bond.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I plan on moving back home to the Metro Detroit area and working in sales or business development. I want to join an alumni chapter and make sure I stay active in the community and mentoring younger kids.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Cameron Barnes for his work as the president of the Gamma Beta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1948.