What Would You Do To Be An AKA? College Seniors Sue Sorority For Violating Human Rights

46 Comments
March 6, 2013 ‐ By

howard akas

It’s no surprise that in the black community belonging to the Divine Nine, a historically black fraternity or sorority is big deal for some people. Hurt feelings, deflated pride much drama and in the worst cases even death has been associated with the process of being pledged into one of these organizations.

The latest case of women not making the cut comes from two college seniors at Howard University. Washington City Paper is reporting that Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield have filed a lawsuit against Alpha Kappa Alpha saying they violated their human rights and Howard University for allowing the hazing to take place.

The women say the hazing began their freshman year when they were invited to “Ivy Day,” a ceremony for outgoing AKAs and prospective pledges or inductees, Howard’s AKA chapter’s pledging privileges have been taken away for past hazing violations.

They claim the hazing came in the form of the AKAs telling them they couldn’t pearls, the colors pink, green or any colors that could be blended to make pink or green. The inductees, who were called “Sweets” or, in some cases, “weak bitches,” were also told they couldn’t speak to non-AKA members.

Compton’s mother, who is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, wrote a letter complaining about the process. Cofield’s mother, also a member, addressed the hazing as well.

From there Compton and Cofield were ostracized by the sorority members being labeled “snitch-friendly” and “snitch-sympathists.”

In 2013, three years later, Compton and Cofield still haven’t been inducted. When they applied again, the Howard chapter told them that their cap for new members had been reached.

Cofield and Compton believe since they’re mothers are both AKAs, and they are subsequently legacy pledges, they should have been the first members offered induction into the sorority. They believe their human rights were violated because they were discriminated against because of their familial connection to the sorority. They are requesting that the court grant an injunction to place the current pledging process on hold.

Do you think these women and their mothers are taking things a little too far, or do they actually have a legit case?

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  • Anonymous

    To be quite honest and this is my own personal opinion, I think it is not fair. As an aspirant of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, I see flaws in their human right argument. My mother did not pledge a sorority in college, and I have to work just as hard as the next person to be considered and to say that they are supposed to gain entrance into the sorority is wrong. I understand that legacy undergraduate student who wants to pursue the organization are automatically considered (they don’t have to do any community service papers to grant them initiation) but some of them aren’t guarantee a spot on the line. From what I heard, there can only be a certain amount of legacies on the line and the rest they would fill with non legacies. So no I don’t think it is fair that they should “automatically get on the line”. Everyone should have a fair chance. It’s great this fine sorority recognizes the women who paid their dues and contributes to the organization, but its nice to see others get a fair chance. (By no means am I trying to offend anyone, just merely stating that legacies should have a equal chance of getting on line with aspirants who are not legacies.)
    -Anonymous

  • KAPPA89

    No org colors, cant eat in certain places, etc,etc..thats hazing? TO BE HONEST, it sounds like a pretty good INTAKE PROGRAM, as stipulated by that respective ORG. I was expecting to read something juicy and all i read was a bunch of fluff. These two girls sound like AKA should be PROUD to have them, when it should be the other way around. AKA doesnt need them. It should not be a privilge for AKA to accept them..THEY SHOULD BE PRIVILEGED TO JOIN AKA and they can select whoever they please. At the end of the day, they should have done the things they were requested to do. It shouldnt have been that big of a deal. Cant eat somewhere…so what? As for not speaking to other friends? Maybe not on campus during the day and in public.Thats what pledging used to be. Your friends would understand. Not wearing pink and green? I think not.. going to sorority events? Absoulutely!!..support every event they have..stay with the other perspectives and stay in your lane. That doesnt mean you need to stay there all night either..That does mean to use some common sense as well. I respect Alpha Chapter and if they didnt open up there mouth and complained and were humble in all the pre-intake stuff, they probably would have gotten two of those 8 spots that went to seniors. After reading everything, they were there own ENEMY and there wasnt any true hazing-physical harm involved; HOWEVER, it comes down to that CAP NUMBER on legacies as mandated by AKA…But, they would get a “NO” vote from me on acceptance into alpha chapter because of how all this went down…BUT A “YES” vote if they did the things that were asked just like everyone else, had a good demeanor and if i felt that they would remain active with the org after graduation, bled PINK AND GREEN and not just doing this for MAMA.

  • KAPPA89

    IN regards to my own opinion, I am a member of a BGLO with a son who is a freshman in college. The plaintiffs mother is not only an AKA but was initiated at Alpha Chapter. i can relate to the pride and honor of having your child initiated in the org of which you are part of and if that child is initiated into the chapter where you were a part of,,and its ALPHA CHAPTER? that is an even bigger honor. That being said, I would give this candidate the benefit of the doubt that if given the opportunity, she would be very active in AKA after graduation. ON THE OTHER HAND, if an effort isnt being made to interact with current-former members and you are acting like you are entitled to being a part of ALPHA CHAPTER because of your mother, or shown humility, deference, and respect…MY VOTE WOULD BE NO AS WELL!! The chapter was suspended for two years because of them and that would pose a red flag for me as well if I was a member of ALPHA CHAPTER, especailly when there wasnt any physical harm involved. THAT part of the lawsuit should be thrown out. Calling former and current alpha chapter sorors/other members of AKA? Thats considered hazing? If so, times have surely changed in 24years! FOR THE RECORD, I would highly recommend to my son, if he is duly qualified, to CONTACT WHOEVER XYZ CHAPTER said to at whatever time..YOU just cant walk in an org without them KNOWING WHO YOU ARE, much like you cant get a job without an interview or some background on you. From experience, these calls are very important because others are TRYING TO GET TO KNOW YOU, see whats in your heart, could offer words of encourgament and also TEST YOUR WILL to see how bad you want it? 430am wake up calls, etc isnt a bad thing..GET OVER IT.

  • KAPPA89

    How many of those commenting have read the actual lawsuit? It is posted and I would encourage everyone(especially those who do not belong to a BGLO ORG) to do so before making comments on something where one is trying to seperate fact vs ficton. . The plaintiffs, from a LEGAL persepctive, have a chance to win this lawsuit. At issue primarily is this CAP LIMIT?? on legacies..I did not see any info from the AKA MEMBERSHIP INTAKE MANUAL in this suit that puts such a limit on legacies. I am sure there are some checks and balances somewhere because YOU cant have a line of all legacies either. That is another lawsuit. THE NPHC placed a limit of 1/3 on legacies and a line of no more than 50. HOWARD, on the other hand set this limit to 65. THE question is : What are the rules stated by NATIONALS on this cap and line limit? I think AKA RULES-BYLAWS have jurisdiction over anything HOWARD OR THE NPHC has. NOW, as it relates to chapter suspensions, etc..THE UNIVERSITY can SUSPEND any chapter if they feel inclined to do so. NATIONALS can do the same..so the university and org work side-by-side on that matter..BUT as it relates to cap limits and mx line limits, it resorts back to what is stipulated by AKA Nationals. It seems as though 15 more candidates should have been accepted. If thats the case, there was some confusion on the part of the chapter and thats where the 50 cap limit came from.

    • Shawtyrock

      Posted where?

    • LadyK

      I have read the complaint and the defense. Let’s remember that ALL BGLOs on any campus are there at the invitation of the university/college. The BGLOs must adhere to the rules and regulations of the university/college FIRST and when mandated, NPHC secondly. Howard Universty’s handbook page 63 states organizations participating in themembership intake process to 65 new members. HOWEVER “Howard also requires that each fraternity and sorority maintain membership in one of the established governing councils, including the National Pan-Hellenic Council (“NPHC”), which it defines as including AKA. (Id. at 63-64.) Howard’s Handbook further states that all officially recognized sororities are required to abide by all applicable rules and regulations of those governing councils and the University.” NPHC
      Constitution also states that for those organizations that observe a Legacy Clause, no more than one third of the selected applicants per intake period shall be legacy applicants.” (One third of 50 would be 17) “Per the priority order, those slots then had to be filled with first sophomores, juniors, and then seniors.” There were enough sophomore and juniors to fill the legacy cap. There were 13 (not just 2) legacy seniors according to the papers filed. 11 will probably be AKAs come next May…. smh

  • me

    Sigh … As a longtime member of a BGLO (I crossed in 1999), the one thing I always hated was how our organizations have come to represent so much division. These girls are setting themselves up to be known as the chicks who sued to get in (if it happens). Why even brand yourself with a scarlet letter? Add this to the long list of subgroups within the orgs: the black school chapters, the white school chapters, those who “pledged,” those who went through the official process … I swear it never stops and it is disheartening. All the while, MANY quality brothers and sisters are slipping through the cracks and getting lost in the shuffle after stepping away because they do not wanna deal with stuff like this or never joining at all. It’s a shame because while I still hold my organization in very high esteem, I often feel we are accomplishing a fraction of what we could because there is no basic sense of unity and purpose. This particular situation is just one of the many problems muddying the Divine Nine.

    • MzPW

      I really appreciate your response…open, honest, and coming from someone within. I chose to NOT pledge a BGLO, although my family has a history. For me, I didn’t see the need to belong to this “org” because their supposed focuses (education, stewardship, volunteering, so on and so on) just weren’t visible. In my mind, if I’m going to dedicate my time to join an org that preaches all these actions…then let’s see them! We heard loud and clear across campus about the step shows and parties- but where were the flyers announcing the community outreach projects? Almost all the Black students on campus would flock down to see who crossing….yet, there was almost never any word about different educational programming being held on campus promoted by any of these orgs. So what’s the purpose? I appreciate the history, but I feel a greater connection to my overall university than just a BGLO that was a part of it. I guess I just believe that the letters on my degrees mean more than the letters sewn onto a jacket….

      As an “outsider”, it’s too bad that many of the chapters of the BGLOs are seemingly losing focus on their purpose in favor for stereotypes….

  • 94aka

    I’ve never been about hazing or being hazed, though I think some of the things being alleged here are more foolishness than hazing.

    However, BGLOs will continue to serve a purpose within our society for years to come. Scholarships, mentoring, health and economic awareness programs are beneficial and necessary. Simple things like voter registration drives and taking people to the polls are necessary. Teaching people to use a computer, funding wells and schools in Africa, necessary. And that step show- it may seem like something frivolous, but the $10000 prize money goes back to the community. Sure you can do those things without an organization, but most people don’t. Of course you will always hear about the negative–that’s how our media and society work. Its far more interesting than hearing about an after school program that teaches kids how to exercise and prepare healthy meals or reading about a summer program that exposes them to STEM careers.

    To you who say its just to wear a few letters: for those of us who were them its a connection to a shared history, its an international network of professionals, its a support system. Do these things require a beatdown (which is not what’s alleged in this story but what people keep mentioning)? Absolutely not. Gang behavior is never acceptable. But recognize that membership in a BGLO is more than simply wearing letters, even if that’s all you see from the outside looking in. These young women want to be a part of that. Its unfortunate that they’ve chosen the wrong path in order to do so.

  • Nope

    These organizations aren’t very relevant or visible post college, if that. Pretty soon these issue plagued organizations are all going to merge like the airlines.

    • KAPPA89

      As for not being relevant, I will stop you right there cause u are severly misinformed. Unlike White orgs, BLGO”S remain viable after graduation, In fact, thats where you really begin to uphold what your org truly stand for. You have opportunities to join an Alumni Chapter which is in or near every city in the United States. There are alot of community service projects etc. Each org has there one main focus in the community and provide a specific year round MENTORSHIP PROGRAM for middle and high school students. Other activities include adopt a highway clean up efforts, providing SCHOLARSHIPs for high school seniors, worshipping together, participating in aids walks, relay for life(cancer), breast cancer awareness and other philanthropy efforts. There are also social activities and proceeds are used for scholarships, donating to various causes, etc. Community leaders are recognized at various programs, and there are reading literacy campaigns, etc. its too much to mention, Unfortunantely, all the focus is mainly on the negative,etc. My mother once told me that ignorance is bliss. These undergraduate chapters have the same initives as the Alumni Chapter and if u were a member u would read about these things. More positive things they are doing should be focused more in the student newspaper rather than things of this nature. From the outside looking in, all you see is hanging out, partying, etc..BUT the reality is most of these Undergrad chapters are all doing at least one community project.

  • Meyaka

    I never pledged for any sorority. I don’t care for them,came across to me as an higher version of high school cliques and I couldn’t.

  • Kenedy

    Its the 2013, do people still need acceptance that bad? I’ll invite you to the bar my friends and i hang out at and you can come & meet new people and make friends, but its not necessary to do all that to make friends, really not

  • tsuki2

    Ugh I cant even believe people are willing to put up with hazing just for some letters. Im sorry but I’m not losing my dignity or individuality just because some loony “Big Sisters” want to show off & act all high and mighty while having people do demeaning tasks (what does washing Yakirah’s car at 2am on a school night or fetching food 2 hours away from campus have to do to with Sisterhood).

    Years ago I thought BGLOs would be one of the highlights of going to college but over the years reading about the foolishness these organizations do and try to hide and being at college myself now, I see BGLOs (or just sororities/frats in general) as nothing more than a joke. They’re filled with males & females who get a false sense of entitlement by yelling their sorority or frat whenever they can but in reality no one outside of these organization cares who or what they are.

  • Fair and Balanced

    There was a time when joining sororities and fraternities were beneficial for blacks but over the last few years they have become so deceitful and treacherous within the group one would have to really be able to over look reality to really want to become a part of these groups.

  • THEONEANDONLY

    To Each His Own…
    And, not all greeks behave in the same manner!

  • Drew Smith

    The thirst to be a part of these organizations, in my opinion, is beyond pathetic. You mean to tell me you want a dumb nickname and some letters printed on a very cheap windbreaker jacket so bad that you’re willing to wash cars in the late night, “fetch” things, allow folks to demean, belittle, strike and/or otherwise haze you all for the HOPE of being offered membership? *ducks so as to avoid being hit with bullish*t*

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    yeah they are taking it way too far and if they are inducted, they will always be remembered as the girls who sued their way into the sorority. But I can believe their claims because that’s exactly how it was when I was at Howard. I learned that when I made the mistake as a transfer student wearing green scrubs and a pink class t-shirt to campus my first week without giving it much thought lol. . .

  • mac

    Oh my bad. When I think hazing, I think being beaten or being forced to do something that may cause bodily harm. But no, I’m sure being forbidden from wearing pearls, and green & pink must’ve been very traumatic *sheds tear*

    Please. Sounds like a couple of entitled brats didn’t get their way, and don’t know how to deal with it. I have no sympathy for hazing victims, in this story or others. If you need to be a part of an organization THAT badly, that you’ll put yourself at risk or put aside your dignity, you have some identity and belonging issues you need to evaluate.

  • THEONEANDONLY

    I’M A PROUD MEMBER OF A BGLO. WE DO SO MUCH FOR OUR COLLEGE CAMPUSES, COMMUNITY AND BROTHERHOOD/SISTERHOOD. IF IT’S NOT FOR YOU, IT’S NOT FOR YOU…MOVE ON! BUT DON’T UNDERMIND THE POSITIVE WORK THAT THESE ORGS HAVE BEEN DOING FOR MANY YEARS, ESPECIALLY FOR THE BLACK COMMUNITY! KNOW YOUR HISTORY! TRUE MEMBERS KNOW IT’S NOT ABOUT STEPPING, LETTERS ON A JACKET AND PARTIES…IT’S ABOUT STEWARDSHIP, EMPOWERMENT AND EDUCATION!

    • Drew Smith

      And, just how many “true” members would you say there are? If it’s NOT about stepping, letters on a jacket and parties, you all aren’t doing a very good job of debunking the myth. And, I’m absolutely sure there are other much more positive things going on, but perception is, unfortunately, reality.

    • ATF

      Thank you! I could have not said it any better!!!

    • YES gAWD

      No one is saying its NOT ABOUT THAT….however we are talking about the practices used to be involved. What does me washing your car, buying you food ETC. have to do with a brotherhood/sisterhood. After people get involved with the organization we may see all of that you listed. But the tactics used to get in just dont really match up to what we will be doing once we are. Some people get all out BEAT THE FK UP to get in, explain what that has to do with STEWARDSHIP/EMPOWERMENT/EDUCATION??? And dont say its only a select few that BEAT PEOPLE because that foolishness happens on every college campus. Like I said, my interest and my qualification should be based on my application, my school standing, and my qualities as a woman. Not if I will let you Beat my A..

    • MsT

      I’m sorry, but between the CAP LOCK and incorrect spelling and grammar, I simply cannot take you seriously. When I was in college, every Black fraternity and sorority hazed potential candidates. The process had nothing to do with stewardship, empowerment and education and in fact was an excuse to humiliate recruits at every turn. Q Dogs forced to eat dog food, not-so-pretty girls laughed at at a rush for even entertaining the thought of pledging AKA, harried Alpha’s carrying a coffin through the quad, and worse. Pledging and practicing for step shows took students away from classwork and an “EDUCATION” and the pledge process was the exact opposite of “EMPOWERMENT”. Historically Black fraternities and sororities served a pupose, but in this day and age, they are unnecessary and serve more to distract young people from what they’re really supposed to be going to college for.

      • mac

        “Pledging and practicing for step shows took students away from classwork
        and an “EDUCATION” and the pledge process was the exact opposite of
        “EMPOWERMENT””

        Absolutely. Many of the people I know saw their grades fall during pledging and even after they crossed. It’s a huge time commitment

    • t_99

      There is always more to th story. I’m a proud member, too, and was an officer in my college chapter. While I have heard of such, no one ever asked me to wash their car, cook for them, etc when I pledged. I signed a commitment statement before pledging a line every time. There is an academic requirement to pledge in the first place, so grades are important. I had mandatory study hours everyday. There are rules/bylaws and national program of activities/areas of emphasis to which all graduate and undergraduate chapter must adhere. Further, our members were not allowed to step if they did not attend service projects, such as scholariship fundraisers, tutoring, voter registration drives, etc. I couldn’t wear pearls, pink, green or red either, but so what (eyes rolling). It’s interesting that these two were offended about being told what colors to avoid, but also demanded that they being allowed to pledge ahead of probably hundreds of equallly qualified candidates because their mothers are members.

      • THEONEANDONLY

        I’m sure there is more to the story, but you know non-greeks always have something to prove/say when issues such as this come up! Have a blessed evening.

    • Janee

      Stewardship, Empowerment and Education….Yep, things you can do (Things I’ve done!) without paying money, getting the crap beat out of you or being humiliated.

      What? You want a cookie? Bye!

  • YES gAWD

    I was once someone who wanted to be apart of this organization, But when you think about it. How can they really care about the success of your college career and stress and mess with you day and night LIKE YOU DONT HAVE CLASSES at the same dam time. I understand they want people who want to be one, But seriously, If you apply, they should qualify you by your application and who you are..not if you washed rayneisha car last saturday, and bought them breakfast. This is how people who are SILLY and keep up this hazing bull crap continue to do so. Because they let people join not because of merit/class, but because they will do the dumbest stuff to be one.

  • Janee

    Yawn…are NPHC organizations really necessary nowadays? Like really, what do they do besides end up in the news every now and then about hazing?
    I have a strong sisterhood (aka “friends”), a great network, strong community ties, am a hardworker and genuinely care about the educational and social advancement of others and I didn’t get hazed or have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for any of it. I do what I do not because of some letters, but because I’m a human, furthermore a Christian, and I’m supposed to love others and have compassion/be a humanitarian.
    Aside from the letters, jackets, stepping partying and hazing – what are they doing that no one else could possibly do outside of the organization?

    • http://www.facebook.com/rucks1 Terry Rucks

      I agree Janee! Christians are birth on this earth to be a servant for Christ and FOR humanity to comfort people in our community. We don’t need letters or approval of man or organization to justify our legacy in our livelihood. I firmly believe Greek Organizations are irrelevant this age and will diminish sooner. They only get recognized for hazing and receive media love for centennial anniversary, that’s pretty much it. It’s courage to dare to be different.

    • Drew Smith

      +1.

    • daza

      This sounds like you were rejected from an organization.

      Joining a Greek-lettered organizations in college allowed me to build relationships with women at my school, and easily form connections with women all over the United States. It allowed me to develop leadership skills in a nurturing environment that was invested in my success. It allowed me to easily give back to the community in a manner that was structured yet fun.

      Of course Greek-lettered organizations get recognition from hazing, it’s the same way the media likes to highlight all of the negative things happening in the black community while ignoring the positive.

      • Janee

        No, quite the opposite. Everyone expected me to join one. The fact is, I do everything they do – and more – without all the drama and not in the name of some letters. I became a leadership and have learned how to network with women all over the country (and out of the country) because of other organizations and jobs on campus. You can do the same things for free and without the hazing.

        I understand the history of each, but I think they served more of a purpose 50+ years ago…they don’t do much now and outside of the “Black community” – which does not make up the whole world – they’re pretty much irrelevant.

      • yeppers

        Lmaooo Your first line is HILARIOUS! Is that in the handbook of what to say to anyone who has a complaint about a sorority… “they must not have wanted you” GIRL BYE! There are people who have had both positive and negative experiences when pledging. I have had both..and ACTUALLY I was on an official line to cross when girls were separately hazing someone and people found out causing us all to not get in. So stupid behavior affects us all, even people who were not REJECTED as you like to throw around. Yawl KILL ME with that….have a nice day…

      • mac

        I’ve done all of what you just said, except my experiences didn’t come with a price tag of thousands of dollars.

        And I’m fairly certain that was the point of the previous post.

      • Robyn

        I have no issues with hazing, I’m not a greek but a Daughter of Isis. Hazing comes in all sort of fashions. I came out sweating like a wet dog. *I made it* lol

      • StarlightMama

        “This sounds like you were rejected from an organization.” SERIOUSLY? You didn’t just say that, did you? Why disrespect those who chose not to take the same path you did? That was an unnecessary, petty jab, likely solidifying the decision for many of the readers here to never join a BGLO, if such responses are the typical example of “sisterhood.”

        It IS possible (and for many, preferable) to be successful, learn leadership skills, be a high achiever, fellowship with others, and stand tall as a pillar of the community…WITHOUT going greek, especially in the 21st century.

        Totally agree with you, Janee.

  • Nikki

    And this is why I stayed away from sororities back when I was in FSU years ago.

    • Guest

      I go to FSU now and I definitely stay far far away from them. The sororities are all stuck up and I just don’t have the time nor the patience to deal with fools like that.

  • Prissy

    Maybe the org doesnt think they qualify. Let it go. It is never that serious to be in a greek org. Black folk are really starting to scare me. Why do we waste our time on this foolishness?

  • Gigi

    Actually, I believe there is something missing from this story.

  • Ann

    Huh? People sue for anything whether it is legit or not.

    • Drew Smith

      True, but this is a little on the egregious side, all things considered.

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