What is Alpha Phi Alpha?
Alpha Phi Alpha was the first fraternity every established for African Americans. The fraternity was founded on December 4, 1906 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The founders of the fraternity saw a need for a strong Brotherhood of African descendants, and the founders—known as the “Jewels” of the fraternity—are Henry Arthur Callis, Charles Henry Chapman, Eugene Kinckle Jones, George Biddle Kelley, Nathaniel Allison Murray, Robert Harold Ogle, and Vertner Woodson Tandy.
Members of the fraternity were leaders of the African American civil rights movement, such as W.E.B DuBois, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Edward Brooke, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Andrew Young, Willian Gray, Paul Robeson, and others. The fraternity became interracial in 1945.
Taxes and Alpha Phi Alpha
Chapters are required to use the identifying number of 501(c)(3) if they formed a charitable organization in their community. However, contributions made to the fraternity are not deductable as “charitable contributions.” The fraternity is nationally exempt under section 501(c)(7), but it does not classify as a charitable organization under the IRS code.
The fraternity recommends that each chapter should contact the IRS to determine their tax ID status. Each chapter is unique, and the tax IDs are thus unique.
Anti-Hazing Efforts by Alpha Phi Alpha
The fraternity is strongly against hazing and has strict anti-hazing policies compared to other fraternity in the United States. In its anti-hazing statement, the fraternity specifically prohibits all forms of mental or physical hazing. “Pledging” is abolished by the fraternity, and the fraternity states, “Aspirants must not submit themselves, or agree to submit themselves, to any membership activities that are prohibited by the Fraternity. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha are forbidden from requiring any aspirant to engage in prohibited membership activities.”
If any hazing occurs at a chapter, the fraternity recommends that you contact the Chapter Advisor, the District Director, or the Regional Vice President. A Hazing Reporting Form can also be forwarded to the National Director of Membership Services.
The fraternity declares that any individual or chapter convicted of hazing will be face suspension, expulsion, or revocation of the chapter’s charter. The individual or chapter may receive fines, and they are subject to penalties from the university as well.
If the individual is suspended, they are not allowed to participate in any fraternity activities until the Regional Vice president restores good standing after approval from the General Convention. If the individual is expelled, their membership is revoked.
Lawsuits Involving Alpha Phi Alpha
In July of 2012, the general president of the fraternity, Herman “Skip” Mason, was removed from his position after the fraternity claimed his mismanaged finances. He filed an emergency temporary restraining order with the DeKalb County judge, but the judge denied his request. Mason’s attorneys stated Mason’s term was about to end this year and denied that Mason ever mishandled funds. The restraining order would have reinstated Mason, but he still removed from the position.