The ins and outs of ‘Neophyte Presentations’ with Kappa Alpha Psi

Sac State fraternity inducts new members for first time since 2013


Ronaldo Gomez

The newest line of Kappa Alpha Psi members stand prepared for their reveal an hour before their performance Nov. 22. A “line” in a Greek organization is the group of people joining at the same time.

Khala Clarke

Sacramento State’s Kappa Alpha Psi chapter’s newest members shook the entire parking structure Friday, Nov. 22, playing music from their cars as they practiced an hour before their reveal. 

All in unison, the sounds of their feet created three consistent booms as they tapped their canes, even alarming the police. 

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Ronaldo Gomez
The newest line of Kappa Alpha Psi includes 10 Sac State students. During a Neophyte Presentation, a standard “link” involves grasping the person in front of you, creating a chain.

Full of excitement, the newest members were prepared and ready to show their families and friends that they were now a part of a brotherhood: Kappa Alpha Psi.

An estimated 300 people waited behind the Guy West Bridge on Nov. 22 for the presentation of the newest members of Kappa Alpha Psi.

Ten new members were debuted during the event, referred to by the fraternity as a “Neophyte Presentation.” Neophyte is a Greek word meaning a new member of an organization.

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Ronaldo Gomez
Red mist covers the air as the newest members surprise the crowd during Kappa Alpha Psi’s Neophyte Presentation on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Every member dressed the same to reflect unison of the line.

Kappa Alpha Psi is a predominantly Black fraternity and was chartered on Sac State’s campus Nov. 19, 1977. Kappa Alpha Psi was the first Black fraternity on Sac State’s campus and is a part of the “divine nine,” a group of nine National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations made up of historically Black sororities and fraternities.

Kappa Alpha Psi, however, has not been active as a chapter on Sac State’s campus for close to a year and a half as the last member graduated in 2018. 

Kappa Alpha Psi alumni chapter member and undergraduate liaison DeVon Smith said the fraternity has not brought in any new members since fall 2013, making the 10 new members that were presented the first members accepted into the fraternity in six years.

Jeffrey Phelps, communication studies major and the first member presented, said “I joined for brotherhood and the opportunities being a Kappa can bring to myself and the community. I searched for a long time to find an organization that gives back and empowers the African American community.” 

The process to join takes an estimated six to seven weeks, in which prospective members take 16 classes learning the history of Kappa Alpha Psi. Once classes are completed, prospective members take a 100-question test.

Prospective members that do not pass the test are allowed one retake before being deferred to the next semester.

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Ronaldo Gomez
During a Neophyte Presentation, the newest members are labeled by numbers according to height. This is the only notable difference on all jumpsuits.

“We look at the person you are and what you’re going to bring to Kappa, you must bring value to our organization,” said Smith. 

One additional requirement for joining is to be an “upstanding citizen,” meaning prospective members cannot have a criminal record and must do good by the community.

During a Neophyte Presentation, each new member is lined up by height and given a corresponding number. The members are masked to conceal their identities and dressed in a cream jumpsuit with splashes of crimson the fraternity colors.

The presentation on Nov. 22 began with the first three members unexpectedly emerging from the top of the Guy West Bridge. Immediately after the rest of the members rushed through a red mist to the center of the plaza at the end of Guy West Bridge. 

The new members got into their formation, locking arms as they stood tall and strong, their chins up high. The alumni chapter members went one by one high-fiving the new recruits in a three-tap sequence, repeating “I’m proud of you, I appreciate you.”  

The Neophytes’ families, friends and classmates, as well as members of other fraternities and sororities, crowded them during the presentation.

Johnnie Rucker, a Sac State student athlete and sociology major, was the 10th Kappa revealed that night. 

“I felt on top of the world,” Rucker said. “The amount of love and support my brothers and myself received was unmatched.” 

The new members broke out in chants, stepped and rapped to different popular hip hop songs, adding words related to the fraternity. The crowd yelled out in excitement, some even screaming the numbers of the members they were associated with, cheering on the new members. 

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Red mist covers the air as the newest members surprise the crowd during Kappa Alpha Psi’s Neophyte Presentation on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Every member dressed the same to reflect unison of the line.

The Kappas’ chant, “Yo baby, yo baby, yo!” was heard throughout the presentation. 

The new members’ identities remained concealed for almost four hours before they were unveiled one by one. During the unveiling, each member took off the jumpsuit to reveal black slacks and a crimson turtle neck to accent their tuxedo-style bedazzled loafers. 

They then yelled out key things about themselves such as their fraternity “nickname” they created once they joined, where they were from and what they study at Sac State. Every member ended the unveiling by finally removing their mask to show their identity.

Quincy Corsey, a double major in sociology and anthropology as well as the fourth member revealed said he was overcome with emotion during his reveal.

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Ronaldo Gomez
DeVon Smith, alumni chapter member and undergraduate liaison, instructs and leads the newest members ahead of their Neophyte Presentation

“When I finally took my mask off it was one of the most surreal feelings,” Corsey said. “I went to shows just like mine and watched so many videos like that, but this time it was mine and I earned it. It was overwhelming at first and felt like a dream.”  

Once all 10 members were unveiled, they began a historic fraternity dance called the “Kappa Cane Step.” When the members were done cane stepping, they were given fraternity jackets and stepping canes in fraternity colors.

These canes are given to members once initiation is complete and the significance of the cane is only known by fraternity members.

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Khala Clarke
Toward the end of the Neophyte Presentation, the members commence and “unveiling,” stripping their masks and jumpsuits to reveal crimson red sweaters and black slacks. The performance is finished with a final dance involving the fraternity’s signature canes.

To conclude the presentation, all alumni chapter members crowded the Neophytes for a final chant.

Charles Jr. Ohaeri joined Kappa Alpha Psi in 2006 at San Jose State University. His younger brother, Uchenna Ohaeri, joined the fraternity at Sac State as the ninth member revealed on Nov. 22.

Ohaeri said his reaction to watching his younger brother was “unparalleled.” 

“Seeing my younger brother begin (the process), work toward, and be initiated into an organization that has been a key contributor to the professional and personal successes in my life can simply be described as omnipotent joy,” Ohaeri said.

Lonnie McNamee III, a Sac State kinesiology major, was the sixth member revealed. 

“After revealing myself, it was just a breath of fresh air, a load lifted off my back,” he said. “The crowd, my brothers, my family and friends, the energy in front of us… It was phenomenal.”

“I’ve never experienced so much love, respect, and excitement before in my entire life,” McNamee said. “I am happy to say I’m finally a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. I can’t wait to inspire great service in the public’s interest.”