February 18, 2003

Moratorium Still in Effect for AKA

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The Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority was restricted last semester from letting in new pledges due to a nationwide ban on the intake of members to all chapters.

Four months have passed since two California State University students pledging AKA, Kristin High and Kenitha Saafir, drowned at Dockweiler State Beach near Playa del Rey, Calif.

The families of the two pledges filed a lawsuit against the sorority. It states, “Saafir and High were blindfolded and tied by their hands and their bodies and led into the riptide conditions of the ocean. That night, the waves were cresting at six to eight feet and creating a strong undercurrent resulting from riptide,” as reported at CNN.com.

Since then, AKA’s national headquarters “placed a moratorium on intake for all chapters to assess the issue and implement changes,” said Leo D. Pedraza, assistant dean of fraternity and sorority affairs.

This change affects Cornell’s chapter of AKA. Currently, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs’ records show that there are eight active members in the chapter. The last member was accepted during the spring 2002 semester.

AKA’s anti-hazing policy was reaffirmed in 1999, emphasizing their policy of “total opposition to hazing,” according to the sorority’s national website. “We firmly believe all current and prospective members have the right to be treated fairly, with dignity and respect — and we enforce their rights by punishing any violation of our hazing policies,” it says.

“Our chapter is very strong, so I think we’ll survive not being able to have intake until our national organization decides we’ll be able to,” said Angela Brizant ’04, a member of AKA. “We are not focusing on membership intake; we are focusing on community service and excellent programming.”

According to Pedraza, Cornell’s chapter has not faced any disciplinary action.

“The chapter here at Cornell is wonderful and very motivated to do great things. Breaches in violation are a rarity with this chapter,” he said.

Alpha Kappa Alpha is a member of Cornell’s Multicultural Greek Letter Council (MGLC). The recruitment process for this branch of the Greek system is different from that of Interfraternity Council fraternities or Panhellenic sororities.

The MGLC fraternities and sororities “tend not to practice recruitment. Their process is called ‘intake,’ which involves a prospective member showing interest in a particular group and then being asked to join,” Pedraza said.

According to Pedraza, after they go through the orientation process and learn more about the organization, potential members will become “full members of the group and they will go through a formal initiation ritual called ‘crossing.'”

As of today, “AKA is still working on the changes so the date to release the moratorium is still undetermined,” Pedraza said. Meanwhile, Cornell’s chapter is still forbidden to take in any members until the problem is resolved.

Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya