Whether it be cracking inside jokes or cheering each other on through it all, members of the Phi Sigma Chi Multicultural Fraternity at Brooklyn College have grown an inseparable bond that they call a “life-long brotherhood.” Together they have become an inclusive environment for men looking to better society through communal engagement. From cleaning up local parks to chatting with the homeless during COVID-19, members have shown their dedication to tackling the issues that affect each other and their communities.
“Honestly, we all do this because we want to help the human race,” said BC student Hassane Soumahoro, otherwise known as Reign of Phi Sigma Chi.
Back in 1996, at the CUNY New York City College of Technology, Phi Sigma Chi’s six founders decided to create a diverse organization that cultivated leadership development and recognition of self-worth. No matter what race, religion, or culture a student came from, they were more than welcome to join the “true brotherhood.” Today, the spirit of those founders has continued. Before entering the fraternity, members – or “brothers” – are accompanied by five others who will be their life companions. Since joining the fraternity nearly a year ago, Soumahoro and his fellow brother Mohammad Tusar, or Tonic, have vowed to be there for each other through thick and thin.
“Brotherhood in this fraternity is always being there for each other, having each other’s back, knowing your brother the best. There’d be days where I wouldn’t feel my best, and Hassane would just send me a meme. Then, I’m like, ‘Ah man, can’t stay angry the rest of the day at these people’,” said Tusar.
Contrary to the questionable Greek life culture on some college campuses, where hazing is a common practice, and frat parties have spiked COVID-contractions, brothers from Phi Sigma Chi have remained focused on their mission – to help communities. From the get-go, the fraternity pledges their support for the betterment of one another. When recruiting and initiating prospective members, they solely ask for students to bring their individualities to the table.
“It’s a relief because I’m part of a fraternity that doesn’t have any scandals like other fraternities. You hear about other fraternities, where hazing is happening to extreme degrees where kids are being overdosed,” said Tusar. “We actually take care of the people that come into our process. Hazing of course is a crime, and what do you gain out of it? What are you teaching the people?”
For Tusar, joining Phi Sigma Chi has become an opportunity for him to become part of a community filled with students that “come from different walks of life.” Being raised in Pennsylvania and coming to NYC in middle school, Tusar has always lived in diversity. Interacting with people who do not look like him and who do not share similar upbringings has contributed to his growth as an aspiring doctor looking to build cultural competence in the medical field.
“We all have different experiences, and because of those different experiences, I can grab onto a lesson or something like that. The way you deal with something is different from that way I deal with something, but the way you deal with it may be more effective than me,” said Tusar.
Soumahoro’s arrival to Phi Sigma Chi came after his search for an opportunity to socialize led him to find organizations which aimed to tokenize his Blackness. Through his brotherhood at the fraternity, he’s been able to showcase who he authentically is and proposed several initiatives for Phi Sigma Chi to take on – including leading their own local Black Lives Matter protest.
“I met somebody in the fraternity, and he gave me a whole speech like, ‘Never change for other people. Stay true to yourself.’ He was speaking to me in a way that shows that they valued me for me, and not just as a symbol. Some other organization, they need a Black guy, but this organization wanted me for me,” said Soumahoro. “They wanted me for Hassane, not just because I’m African or Indian.”
In valuing the individuality of each member, the fraternity has worked towards showing their inclusivity of everyone. Recently, they have become a certified safe zone for the LGBTQ community in BC. This accolade, rooted in their founding gay brother’s legacy, has been a step for them in their plan to ensure all on campus have the support they need.
Through their philanthropic pillar, 363 Campaign, the fraternity has worked on serving their communities day after day – not only on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when most decide to volunteer.
“It’s actually our duty to help out on those days that people neglect,” said Tusar. Currently, the brothers are actively fundraising and running a toy drive for NYC children’s hospitals. They have also led park clean-ups and food distributions in numerous communities, including Harlem, where Soumahoro is from.
Collectively, connected through the thread of their Brotherhood that spans over 20 years, the fraternity has cultivated a tight-knit community. No matter the circumstances presented by COVID-19, and any Greek life myths they must debunk, these men are determined to be there for one another today and beyond their time at BC.
“We want your ideas. We want your mentality. We want a whole different spectrum of people. Whatever unique style you can bring, bring it in,” said Soumahoro. “If you love the human race, and you want to be yourself, we’d love to have you.”