Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, TX (between Shreveport, LA and Dallas, TX) says it had roughly 550 undergraduate students in 2012. But USNEWS cited the historically black college’s enrollment at 603 for that year.
The news source also placed Jarvis Christian College as number one on its list of the nation’s colleges and universities ranked by its dominant percentages of male students who are also fraternity members.
According to USNEWS, 88% of the male student body at Jarvis Christian are members of Greek fraternities. That percentage is higher than any college or university in the nation, whether a PWU (predominantly white university) or HBCU (historically black college).
If you’ve never heard of Jarvis Christian College, it’s probably because its persona matches the small town where the campus sits outside of Tyler, Texas, a community with an approximately 25% African American population and more than 20,000 college students.
Jarvis Christian College was built in January 1913. The school began with twelve students in elementary grades and was founded by the Negro Disciples of Christ. The liberal arts college remains spearheaded by the Disciples of Christ. It’s the only remaining school of the twelve HBCUs founded by the Christian Church in the United States.
Alumni are a strong givers in the private college’s independent fundraising efforts. Oil wells found on the campus in the 1940s provided millions in revenue for the campus for a good while. The wells are still a source of funding, but historically throughout the American South, oil well and drilling regulations eliminated maximum profits for a number of black people who owned or resided on properties with oil excavating potential.
Jarvis Christian College’s mission statement includes seven guiding principles: scholarship and lifelong learning; service; integrity; respect; responsibility; Christian ethics, and innovation. 57 percent of the student body at Jarvis Christian is male, 43% is female. 88 percent of the student body lives on campus, while the other 12% commutes.
At colleges.niche.com, Greek life at Jarvis Christian has been cited to “throw some really good parties”. The student posted reviews also report that black Greeks at Jarvis Christian College are welcoming and inviting of those who choose not to join Greek life. A couple of YouTube videos demonstrate the strong black male presence of fraternity brothers.
When one considers the strong patriarchal hegemony that drives the Black Church and hip hop/gangsta rap music and fraternity parties in this section of the country known as the “dirty south”, it’s little wonder that black fraternities are a strong and influential presence at this Christian College in East Texas.
Parental involvement has also been cited as a driving force to maintain Greek presence at Jarvis. In other words, in addition to tuition, Jarvis Christian parents pay a lot for their sons and daughters to participate in black tie ceremonies, travel and living expenses for their inducted offspring.
Jarvis Christian College also has a frat house, but only 10 percent of campus housing is co-ed.
Like a number of Kappa Alpha Psi chapters, Kappas at Jarvis Christian College were also accused of hazing. After student could not properly answer questions about the fraternity’s history, the student was beat with a paddle. The student endured 5 hours of paddling, inducted into the “Century Club” for those who withstood more than 100 hits. A month later, the student was in the hospital with kidney failure.
Jarvis Christian College and the fraternity were sued for the incident. In cases like that, the defendants, in this case Kappa Alpha Psi Incorporated and Jarvis Christian, usually settle with the plaintiff.
The black Greeks at Jarvis have moved on, and today both the sororities and fraternities demonstrate a strong sense of spirit that exemplifies black Greek life.
Furthermore, Jarvis Christian College’s yearly celebrations, like Founder’s Homecoming celebrations, and its King and Queen coronation ceremony cater to debutante traditions cherished in post Harlem Renaissance intellectual communities.
Jarvis Christian College has a men’s baseball team; men and women’s indoor and outdoor track, cross country and basketball teams. Many of the students at Jarvis participate in athletics. College tuition at Jarvis per academic year is close to $20,000 per academic year for students who live on campus. Tuition alone runs just over $5,000 per semester.