Hazing at Howard Sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha Was “Dehumanizing,” Lawsuit Alleges
The two Howard students who allege that their human rights were violated when they didn't get into the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority have been treated pretty roughly around the Web since I wrote about their lawsuit yesterday. Gossip blog Bossip's reaction was typical of the responses: "Oh for crying out loud, are you KIDDING???"
But the lawsuit also includes some accusations of hazing I wasn't able to cover in the original post—some serious, some not so much.
The gravest accusations come from a document compiled by plaintiff Laurin Compton's mother Sandra Compton (an Alpha Kappa Alpha sister) that's been submitted as evidence in the case. Sandra Compton claims that the Alpha Kappa Alpha orientation in which her daughter participated in 2010 and 2011 was "dehumanizing." In the dossier, Sandra Compton alleges that one Howard student who went through orientation even suffered a nervous breakdown and had to leave the school.
Sandra Compton also claims that students hoping to join the sorority were forced to, among other things:
- Pick up sorority members from the airport.
- Buy alcohol for Howard's Founders Week.
- Use different doors than full-fledged sisters.
- Not eat in the Punch Out, a Howard hangout.
- Line up and address sisters by their sister's full names.
"If [prospective members] approached a chapter member on the yard, the members would ignore them, embarrass them, and use foul language in front of other people," Compton writes.
The younger Compton and fellow sorority aspirant Lauren Cofield—who are both currently seniors—experienced other forms of "hazing," according to their lawsuit. After attending a sorority ceremony in the spring of 2010, the lawsuit claims, Cofield and Compton were forbidden to wear Alpha Kappa Alpha's pink and green colors, as well as any colors that when combined create pink or green (no red and white clothing at the same time, for example). According to the complaint, other requirements to enter the sorority included checking in with sisters:
Interested women were commanded to contact random sorors daily at a certain hour on the minute, and if they failed to do so, the women would be forced to suffer and endure verbal abuse or be disqualified from [membership process] ab initio
Being "harangued" at events:
Interested women were told to attend social events under the guise of getting to know other Greek letter organization members, only to be heckled, harangued and humiliated by sorors in front of their peers;
Being "mentally tormented":
Interested women were mentally tormented by sorors; for example some were instructed by sorors to do something random or silly, only to be immediately berated and castigated in front of other sorors for doing as they were instructed to do
And prohibited from speaking with certain people:
Interested women were restricted from speaking with friends on the college campus and warned not to report abuses.
So far, everyone involved in the case is keeping quiet—Howard, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the plaintiffs' lawyer haven't responded to requests for comment. For its part, the sorority filed a motion opposing the plaintiffs' requests to suspend the new membership process until the case is sorted out, writing that Cofield and Compton could reapply for graduate student membership in the sorority.
Photo by Flickr user Travir used under a Creative Commons license