Greek Life fraternities have existed at the University of Northern Iowa since the 1930s, but the first Greek Life organizations that were non-White did not begin to appear until the middle of the 1970s. The “Divine Nine” fraternities were a set of nine multiethnic Greek Life organizations that existed between 1975 and the present day. The Divine Nine organizations are as listed:
- Omega Psi Phi (1975-present)
- Alpha Phi Alpha (1981)
- Alpha Kappa Alpha (1987-1996)
- Kappa Alpha Psi (1988-2005)
- Phi Beta Sigma (1991-2011)
- Sigma Gamma Rho (2006)
- Lambda Theta Phi (2008-present)
- Lambda Theta Alpha (2018-present)
Of these organizations, only three are still operating as of 2022: Omega Psi Phi, Lambda Theta Phi, and Lambda Theta Alpha. The dwindling of these organizations can be most likely attributed to a gradual loss of membership on campus over the years, as many Greek Life fraternities at UNI have struggled to maintain their participation levels.
One of the principal struggles of understanding the narrative of the Divine Nine and other Greek Life fraternities on campus is the lack of material evidence in the University’s archive collections. Many fraternities operate with a degree of organizational secrecy that makes it difficult to establish firm narratives regarding their histories or their methods of operation. What evidence there is points to the Divine Nine performing various community engagement projects.
Since the 1970s, involvement in fraternities has decreased greatly. The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have reached Greek Life organizations and the result has been a decrease in size, scope, and operations for many fraternities.