City Desk

Howard Sorority Caught Tampering With Witnesses

The Howard University sorority lawsuit has taken another byzantine turn! The story of two seniors' legal fight to get into a sorority now involves something very unsisterly: witness tampering.

In case you missed the strange case of the would-be sorority sisters, some background: seniors Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield, and their mothers are suing Howard and the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, alleging that their legacy status was ignored in the pledge process, in part because they refused to go along with "dehumanizing" hazing.

A lawsuit is a a strange way to get into a sorority, but Alpha Kappa Alpha apparently took the complaint seriously enough that it decided to cancel sorority privileges for both Compton's and Cofield's mothers. The note spooked potential witnesses, according to the plaintiffs, and convinced Compton's mother not to attend a hearing.

In an opinion released Thursday, Judge Rosemary Collyer slammed the tampering as "deplorable" and "supercilious." Collyer decided not to sanction the sorority for the tampering, but that didn't depress their outspoken attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon.

Gordon, the self-proclaimed "Warrior Lawyer," took to Facebook to trumpet the judge's decision. "We're just getting started," he writes. "The Warrior Lawyer!!"

Photo by Flickr user Travir used under a Creative Commons license

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  • LeelahJames

    That shit cray.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    Wow a mess this has turned into. Several years ago, the President of AKA's alleged to have spend the Sorority's money on buy expensive personal items. If if these 2 young women are allowed to join this Sorority at a later date, most Sorors will probably not want to associate with them.

  • smh-1

    I am glad that the court is seeing this for what it is. "MEAN GIRL SYNDROME" AKA needs to learn that you can not continue to treat people like crap and not have to answer to anyone. They do some shady stuff and then when you report them, the person you are usually reporting them to is one of them and the cover up continues. They make up lies and loose paperwork, whatever it will take keep you out if they get mad at you over something petty. So they kicked the mothers out? That is crazy. All of this probably could have need avoided if the AKAs had mature leadership who treated people with dignity, respect and compassion. Go get them ladies!!! They messed with the wrong ones this time!!. The AKAs need to wake up and smell the coffee. They talk about putting petty things aside but it is all talk. They are the most petty women out there. I can see why the Deltas left and formed their own group.

  • IAmNotALiberalDemocrat

    My question, is it really that important or worth becoming a member of the Divine 9? Most members aren't active once they complete undergraduate school.

  • KP

    Honestly, it's not that serious. This "hazing" they are alleging is a part of the pledging process. It's been this way FOR YEARS! They should've sucked it up if they wanted to be in the AKA sorority. As a college student in DC, and a family member of several AKA's, this whole lawsuit is ridiculous. Now their mother's aren't even in the sorority. I feel like now the girls won't will be ostracized by all the HBCU sorority's. It also seems like the girls or their mother's just wanted some attention and their names in the papers.

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  • Angelfire3

    At Howard there is a cap of 50 initiates a rule made by the University. Pan-Hell says that if your organization has a “legacy clause” you may only hold ONE THIRD (that would be 17) of the available spaces for legacies and you must FIRST consider sophomores (there were 9 of them) THEN juniors (and 8 of them) and LASTLY seniors (and oh, the seniors are selected by GPA. Incidently, 8+9=17! They should have read the rules of the school before they went off all half cocked. You have to follow the school's rules first. These girls, nor their mothers, appear interested in membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha, they just wanted to be initiated into Alpha Chapter. There were 11 other legacy seniors that could not be initiated because of the cap and you don't see them or their moms crying or running to a lawyer. They will probably go on to join a graduate chapter. These women are now suspended, probably nullifying her daughters' legacy status. How the heck are you going to sue AKA, to become a part of AKA? Do you think that the AKAs are going to treat you like a sister? Boo F’n Hoo. These people are ridiculous.

  • smh-1

    Howard University’s membership intake cap is 65, not 50. (HU Handbook 63) (“There is a sixty-five (65) new member limit for organizations participating in the membership intake process.”) HU’s Pan Hellenic Council, Inc. (“HU NPHC”) had the intake cap of 50, but HU NPHC’s constitution clearly stated: “No rules may be enacted that are in conflict with the rules of the University. The members of Alpha Kappa Alpha could have resolved this issue by following their own law and listening to these women, instead they chose to turn their noses up and this is what happened. I commend the mothers and the young ladies for standing up for their rights. What is wrong with them wanting to be a legacy of the Alpha Chapter where their mothers pledged? That is one of the reasons they went to Howard. You all act like these ladies were not qualified. They had high GPAs 3.7, high morals, 100 hrs of community service etc. This was personal and AKA wanted to flex muscle instead of being the sophisticated,educated leaders that they claim to be. Good luck ladies and remember, some of us out here understand your plight!!!!Angelfire3-know the true facts before you speak.

  • Cb

    If the girls in the sorority didn't like them, they didn't have to take them in. This just sounds as if they're salty they're weren't accepted into the organization. AKA has the right to suspend the membership of someone taking legal action against them. This whole thing is BS.

  • DK

    TO smh-1 the comment regarding the Deltas leaving the AKAs and forming their own group is simply juvenile and pathetic for we all know that most if not all black greek organizations have been involved in some form of lawsuit or threat thereof. Get off the high horse and google Delta Sigma Theta- you might find out the truth or at least gain some knowledge. SMH.

  • minime

    "Howard University’s membership intake cap is 65, not 50. (HU Handbook 63) (“There is a sixty-five (65) new member limit for organizations participating in the membership intake process.”) HU’s Pan Hellenic Council, Inc. (“HU NPHC”) had the intake cap of 50, but HU NPHC’s constitution clearly stated: “No rules may be enacted that are in conflict with the rules of the University."

    It would seem that capping intake at 50 is not in conflict as it is less than 65, therefore it follows the rules set forth by the school as well. But lets say for argument sake that they took 65 which is the MAX not the requirement, That would mean that the line could have consisted of 22 legacy candidates...5 more than what they had. There were 13 seniors. Who is to say that these 2 would have been in that number.

    In addition, if you look at the application that the aspiring women fill out, it clearly states that they will agree to arbitration. Suing is not the way to handle this.

  • Angelfire3

    Smh-1, maybe you too should have read the whole paragraph. If as you say, "Howard University’s membership intake cap is 65, not 50. (HU Handbook 63) (“There is a sixty-five (65) new member limit for organizations participating in the membership intake process.”) HU’s Pan Hellenic Council, Inc. (“HU NPHC”) had the intake cap of 50, but HU NPHC’s constitution clearly stated: “No rules may be enacted that are in conflict with the rules of the University." Then it would stand to reason that since “Each fraternity or sorority is expected to maintain membership in one of the established campus governing councils, as applicable: National Pan-Hellenic Council or Council of Fraternal Organizations. All officially recognized fraternities, sororities and similar organizations are required to abide by all applicable University and governing council rules and regulations” (HU Handbook 63) Then the rules of NPHC who, as the governing council, has capped at 50, must also be followed , Additionally, all of these organizations are on campus at the pleasure of the UNIVERSITY. If Howard says that they have to follow NPHC then guess what???? That is what they have to do. It just seems ridiculous to sue. Those girls could join a grad chapter just like the other 11 seniors will probably do.

  • smh-1

    DK- if the only thing that you disagreed with was the comment about the deltas then you just made my point.

    Angelfire- You should walk in the shoes of these people before u pass judgement. Lets see how u would feel if this happened to you. It may be ridiculous for them to sue in your eyes but not theirs. Suing in just letting the organization know that you cant promise something in the bylaws and not abide by it or atleast make an effort to. This could have been resolved with communication and respecting the concerns of its members through the sorority. The mothers went to the sorority first and inquired and they were shut down and not talked to. Since the leadership of AKA felt they could treat people like they were nothing, now they face more national embarrassment. SMH

  • minime


    I am interested to know your opinion about what I said. Who is to say that these 2 would have been selected had the cap of 65 been used. What was the leadership to do? Let these 2 ladies on/in because they complained the loudest? What of the other legacy seniors? I am not understanding why these is such a big issue.

  • smh-1

    minime and the rest on the page, please listen carefully. I work on fact and not speculation. These are the facts:

    According to AKA rules, daughters had the right to priority status in the AKA Membership Intake Process at Howard University as a matter of law. Priority status means that Legacies are selected first and are not subjected to chapter vote. If Intake spaces remain after the selection of qualified Legacy candidates, then everyone else may be selected. This may seem harsh, unfair, and cruel from the outside looking in, but these are AKA rules. the mothers and daughters suing did not write the rules, they simply followed them, and relied upon AKA to apply them. AKA broke the rules by selecting non-Legacy senior applicants over Legacy senior applicants, who included these 2 young ladies, and refused to provide a cure by offering additional spaces. They had up to fifteen remaining slots to remedy the breach and they refused to correct the problem. Their actions were unacceptable to the mothers who have been dedicated members of AKA for 30+ years and have complied with all of the terms and conditions of AKA's Constitution & Bylaws to be able to enjoy all of the benefits of their membership.

    The mothers felt betrayed, and still gently attempted to persuade AKA to uphold its end of the bargain. But after multiple emails and telephone calls to resolve the matter yielded nothing in return,the ladies chose then to exercise their rights as citizen members of the U.S. to access the courts in order to more persuasively register their very serious concerns with AKA. At the end of the day, if nothing else, AKA will better respect the rights of its most active, financial, and loyal members.

    Minime, I hope this answered your question. The leadership was asked months before this thing went public to practice what they preach and have workshops on, and that is conflict resolution. They chose to treat these ladies like they treat everyone as if their concerns did not matter. AKA leadership needs to get it together, from the president to the regional directors to the campus advisors. Good luck ladies!!!

  • minime

    Facts are certainly important. Based on the timing of this whole thing, I am not sure how leadership could have been asked "months" before this went public to do something different. I have been watching this whole thing unfold and I just don't see where the AKA's are guilty of what they are being accused of.

    I read this a while back...part of it is now mysteriously missing. There was a photo copy of the page from the "MIP" handbook which clearly spelled out the order in which the girls are to be selected. Even without that info I think that reading the response to the lawsuit is helpful in gaining some additional understanding. It is posted below. If I can find the other section that I saw before I will post the link.

  • minime

    When you read the memorandum in the link I posted you can see where it references an Exhibit. That exhibit has been removed form the document ( I can only assume the sorority did not want that info made public). It clearly stated that the legacy members were to be chosen in the order of Sophomore, Junior Senior when I cap on legacy members was mandated by a University or NPHC.

    No where have I read anything that says legacies are guaranteed anything..Only that they are not subject to chapter vote. Not being subject to chapter vote is not the same thing as being guaranteed a spot "on line"

  • minime

    Ok this is my last post. Firs of all, sorry for all of the typos in my previous message.

    This comes from the complaint filed by the 2 girls....

    “If a college or university has a cap requirement (the number of participants are limited), the chapter shall use the following selection criteria:
    " Select candidates in the following priority order:
    a. Legacies
    b. Sophomores
    c. Juniors
    d. Seniors
    If the numbers are still outside the requirements, GPA could be used as an additional criterion for ranking and selecting candidates.” (Undergraduate MIP Manual I-14)

    But, what was not posted in the complaint is the very next section that spells out what they are to do, if there is also a cap placed on the number of legacy candidates. It stated what order they were to be selected in (Soph, Junior, Senior) I also read that of the 17 sophomores and juniors who were legacies, 1 did not meet the requirements so then 1 senior legacy candidate was selected. She had the highest GPA of the senior legacy applications that were received.

    smh-1 I too, am going by the facts as I see them.

  • smh-1

    minime. I appreciate you taking the time to explain the fact as you see them. My point is that maybe if the leadership in this organization took a moment to understand the plight of there women and had a sisterly conversation, all of this could have been avoided and the sorority not look like a mockery. They talk about discretion and yet they are plastered all over the internet. It is about respect and communication. AKA needs to respect its members and the leaders need to be advocates for the members, not just ignore questions and concerns. They can not treat people like that and they need to understand that it is about respect. The Directorate act as if they are Gods and they are not. Even God himself would be rational and listen to a concern.The mother tried to talk to them and they refused to have a conversation or sympathize with their concerns. I think AKA needs better leadership that practices conflict resolution. Regardless of what has happen, it could have been avoided with good leadership period.I sure we can agree on that. I am in no way affiliated with this case nor do i know these people. What I do know is that there are mature ways to resolve issues and the leaders did not read the memo on resolving issues internally.

  • Soul4Real

    My question and point is "why would you want to be associated with a organization if they are considered to be stomping on your civil rights? This lawsuit is just a waste of time!