The Heart Beats On for 50th Anniversary

Jae-Kur Lockhart, Opinions Writer/ Editor

This is the 125th anniversary of Henderson but it also marks the 50th anniversary of something else. The time has come again for the constant beating of barrels around the campus from Thursday of homecoming week until homecoming kickoff on Saturday. It is a sound that has been all too familiar to Reddies for the past 50 years – the “Drumbeat” of Henderson.

“There is typically four to five people beating on one barrel [at any given time] and the guys rotate in and out as necessary should someone need a break,” Joel Hendry, junior accounting major, said.

Hendry also serves at the current president of this fraternity.

“Oh gosh, is that what that was,” Fantaysia Henry, pre-biology major, asked. “I heard the drum beating but I was not even remotely sure what it was. I stay on the top floor at Smith hall and I heard the beating as clear as if it was outside of my room.”

A Henderson tale says that the “drumbeat” has been a tradition that the Phi Lambda Chi fraternity at Henderson has held since 1965 when members floated along the river near Ouachita Baptist University. The members beat barrels near the campus in hopes of keeping Ouachita’s football players awake throughout the night before the homecoming game the following day between the schools’ two teams.

“It is now a philanthropy event of sorts for us in which we get businesses and other organizations to sponsor barrels that we beat down,” Hendry said. “All proceeds go to Arkansas’ Children Hospital.”

In lieu of events occurring only a few short weeks ago at the “pink house” involving Phi Lambda Chi, this fundraiser was almost just a thing of the past – well at least for this year.

“We worked things out with nationals and Henderson to where we would be able to continue with the event this year,” Hendry said. “I felt as though this was a positive event for both our school and fraternity.”

Henderson’s Phi Lambda Chi chapter was suspended for undisclosed reasons, which occurred prior to their fundraising event, and the suspension will continue as both the school and nationals perform investigations.

“[Although we were suspended], nationals and Henderson both decided that it was ok for us to continue with our major philanthropy event,” Hendry said.

“I am just honored to have the privilege to be part of this great event,” Jesse Williams, sophomore aviation major, said. “This is my second time participating and I must say it has been fun, exhilarating, and traditional. I am a very proud member of Phi Lambda Chi.”

But what compelled the school, as well as nationals for that matter, to listen to the opinion of just students? Hendry believes that Martin James, professor of political science, played a key role in this effort.

“[He] probably played the biggest part in getting all of this done,” Hendry said. “I swear we cannot thank him enough.”

“I just made a personal appeal to Dr. Shepherd to allow the “drumbeat” to continue – thus representing the spirit and tradition of Phi Lambda and Henderson,” James said.

“They have already been charged, tried, and punished, yet the investigation is still ongoing,” James said. “As their advisor, I feel like I have a duty to protect them.”

According to Hendry, they raised over $1,500 – an amount similar to their total from last year.

“I support that fraternity extremely and without a doubt,” Braylin Little, pre-biology major, said. “I am glad that they are being portrayed in a good way as opposed to the story that covered them a few weeks ago.”