In the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains where New Jersey meets New York is a young, public college established in 1969. It was here at Ramapo College of New Jersey that Gamma Xi Phi was established amid an already vibrant fraternal community on October 7, 2010.
Among these students, the desire to be an arts-centered organization arose early on, though it was not clear whether Gamma should be a social fraternity for artists or a professional fraternity. After much thought and soul-searching among the founding members, it became apparent that being a professional fraternity was best for the organization. Ramapo College had no other professional fraternities on campus, so the road before them would be challenging. Nationally, Gamma would have to lead the way as a pioneer among all professional fraternities. Locally, the founding members would have to navigate a complex campus culture, which at times was as skeptical as it was curious about the new fraternity for men and women in the purple, black, and gray letters.
By following the established process of organization recognition at Ramapo, Alpha Chapter became a recognized entity in April of 2011.
The National Constitution, the first governing document of Gamma Xi Phi, was adopted on May 22, 2011. The original purpose of the fraternity is drawn directly from the Constitution.
Through networking on the part of founder Malcolm Minor, a second group of interested members was identified in Washington, DC. This group became the Beta Chapter of Gamma Xi Phi and is the first professional chapter of the organization. It was formally established on October 3, 2011. Eta Chapter and honorary membership was also established on October 3, 2011.
Finally, the same meeting saw the election of the interim national board of trustees: Storme Gray, National President; Malcolm Minor, National Vice President; Sharnell Bryan, National Secretary; and Nadia Blaine Fisher, National Treasurer.
Philanthropy, Sodality, and Elevation were adopted as the cardinal principles of the fraternity on March 12, 2012. Gamma Xi Phi was incorporated exactly one month later on April 12. The incorporators were Sharnell Bryan, Rashid Darden, and Storme Gray. By the end of the Spring of 2012, Alpha Chapter had initiated its first line, consisting of Brigette Ramos, while Beta Chapter made preparations to recruit and select new members of its own.
On June 30, 2012, Gamma Weekend was held in Washington, DC. It was a weekend of fellowship as well as important business for the members of the fraternity. At the Greater Tried Stone Baptist Church in the Columbia Heights section of DC, the national board of directors convened and made several important decisions, including the chartering of Alpha Lambda Chapter, a nationally-oriented, at-large chapter for prospective members residing outside of the service area of an existing chapter. Now that the fourth chapter was chartered, the fraternity was obligated to call its first national convention. The host city was decided to be Newark, New Jersey, the home of several founding members.
Over the next five years, Gamma Xi Phi added additional members and chapters to its network of artists. National Presidents included Malcolm Minor, elected in 2013 in Newark; Rashid Darden, elected in 2015 in Philadelphia; and Sharnell Bryan, elected in 2017 in New Orleans. Over the years, the constitution, bylaws, policies, and ritual were amended and enhanced to meet the needs of the organization. The fraternity was also saddened by the loss of Brother Bruce Hawkins in late 2016. He is considered the charter member of Omega Omega Chapter, the chapter of deceased Brothers and Sisters.
In 2017, Gamma Xi Phi experienced several important changes to insure its perpetuity and allow room for growth. Chief among those changes was the decision to be unclassifiable; that is, “Professional Arts Fraternity” was officially dropped from our name. Now known simply as Gamma Xi Phi, the fraternity could now more flexibly exist in spaces where it sought to expand. Additionally, the organization evolved into an organization more like an academy than a professional fraternity, with the aim to honor artists with membership. While the core mission and program of the fraternity would remain the same, it’s raison d’etre was modified to reflect and enhance its existing successes.
Although the world has seen professional fraternities and societies for artists, the earliest members of Gamma Xi Phi knew that the world had not seen an organization quite like theirs. They forged ahead with an unrelenting zeal, ready to perform the important work of uniting the world through the uplift of artists.
The most important chapter in the history of Gamma Xi Phi is the next chapter. Will you be a leading role in the next part of our story?