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Alpha Kappa Alpha and HU Faced With Lawsuit Claiming Human Rights Violation

Campus Editor

Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 17:03


On February 28, Laurin Compton, a senior Public Relations major, and Lauren Cofield, a senior Legal Communications major, filed a federal lawsuit against both Howard University and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated after being denied initiation into the sorority.

The lawsuit - which, if successful, will place an injunction on the sorority - stemmed from allegations made by both Compton and Cofield that the two endured incidences of hazing and that the University failed to protect them.

According to the lawsuit, this is not the first time the two have been at odds with the sorority. One issue stems back to their freshman year in 2010 during “Ivy Day,” an event for graduating Alpha Chapter initiates, where prospective members can be invited.

Other incidences that the two mentioned as hazing in the lawsuit include being restricted from wearing pink and green, the sorority’s colors, red and white, the colors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and that they could not wear pearls.

Aside from the human rights violation addressed in the lawsuit, the students are also claiming that the organization violated the “Legacy Clause” section of its constitution. Both Cofield and Compton’s mothers are members of the sorority.

The legacy clause in the organization’s Constitution states that “although the graduate chapter does not vote upon an applicant for membership under the legacy provision, all requirements for memberships must be met.”

The sorority responded to the issue of the “Legacy Clause” by issuing a memorandum in response to the lawsuit:

“…despite the plaintiffs’ disappointment and complaints, AKA did not violate the 'Legacy Clause' in its Constitution and Bylaws, because that is not a guarantee membership to a particular chapter, but simply provides for a priority process.”

The memorandum also went further to say that the sorority was also working with limitations beyond their control as the University has a cap on how many people can be initiated to Howard’s Alpha Chapter in one intake.  

“We serve at the pleasure of the school where we have a chapter and we follow the rules set by the school regarding caps on the membership intake process,” said Chief Information Officer for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Melody McDowell.

The mothers of both the students are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha, which would qualify both Compton and Cofield as legacy applicants.

The lawsuit states, "The students feel that they are being discriminated against and allegedly have been detested by the rest of the member population because they were deemed as 'snitch-friendly.'" 

Compton said she could not comment at this time. However, she did post a status on Facebook yesterday, perhaps in response for the Washington City Paper article that first discussed the suit. 

"Keep the un-factual and mis-guided stories coming... they are TOO funny. If I know you and trust you, you know the truth. If I don't, then you're engaging in "hear-say"" and should go find business of your own. But, nonetheless, thank you for your attention!" Compton wrote. 

 Cofield did not respond to The Hilltop's request for comment by the time of publication, nor did J. Wyndal Gordon, the lawyer handling the suit.

University spokesperson Dr. Kerry-Ann Hamilton said that members of the institution could not comment on pending lawsuits. 

"It is University's policy not to discuss litigation matters," Hamilton said.

Though the organization has commented on the procedures of rules they follow, they have said that they will not be commenting "on the litigation at this time."  

*Reporting for the this article is still in process, as various sources have still not responded. More updates to come.  See Howard students’ response via Twitter here.

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