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There is absolutely no place for violence in college pledging and the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) chapter at the University of Pittsburgh learned this lesson the hard way.

The AKA sorority at the University of Pittsburgh has been suspended after a dozen female pledges told police that a hazing incident spiraled out of control.


Penn Hills Police Chief Howard Burton said a mother noticed that her daughter, who was pledging the AKA sorority at the college, suffered bruises on her arms and called the police.

Eleven other girls were involved in the February hazing event and police are investigating because the incidents reportedly became too rough.

“During the course of this, they were maybe hit with a paddle of some sort,” Burton told reporters. “We’ve got a lot of girls who don’t want to talk about it. If they don’t want to be victims, there’s not a heck of a lot we can do with that.”

This isn’t the first time that hazing incidents have been reported on college campuses – and it won’t be the last — although most incidents usually involve male fraternities.

This case, however, involves Black women and comes at a time when influential black female congressional leaders, also AKAs, met in Washington, D.C. last month to support a campaign to honor Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, the founder of the AKAs, with a U.S. Postage Stamp.

“It’s time to honor the central person whose vision launched a sorority for African-American women with the purpose of service to mankind,” according to a website promoting the project.

“In 1908, because of the leadership, determination, savvy, political and intellectual skill of Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated was founded,” the website said. “She identified and recruited talented young ladies who worked with her to get the job done. Her legacy has been far-reaching.”

It’s a noble effort but meanwhile, in a letter to the college’s sororities and fraternities, University of Pittsburgh Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner said he was “disappointed” that he had to place the AKA chapter on suspension.

“We have placed our trust in you, as Pitt Panthers, to act responsibly, to treat others with respect, and to practice care and compassion for one another,” he said in the letter. “We are a community that promotes mutual respect, dignity and genuine concern for the well-being and safety of others, and we will not tolerate behavior on our campus that directly opposes our most basic institutional values. “

Bonner said sororities and fraternities involved in hazing could be terminated and students expelled.

“Based on this incident, the Division of Student Affairs will reevaluate the next steps regarding the future of fraternity and sorority life at Pitt,” Bonner said. “We are better than this, and now is the time for you and your organizations to join me in holding yourselves and each other accountable to effect positive change.”

It’s a shame that the AKA chapter at The University of Pittsburgh has been suspended. Only time will tell how long the suspension will last. For now, this appears to be an isolated incident within the 109-year-old sorority – an incident the sorority says it takes very seriously.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s International Communications Committee Chairman Leona Dotson issued this statement to The Pitt News.

“Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has a zero-tolerance policy for hazing in our sorority and we take any allegations of this nature very seriously,” Dotson said. “We were appalled to learn of hazing allegations against a suspended member who is no longer a student at the University of Pittsburgh. We believe that all existing and prospective members have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We ensure members’ rights by disciplining those who violate Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s policies and procedures.”

Here’s the bottom line: Put some power behind those lofty words. Get rid of hazing – once and for all. Students have been seriously injured as a result of hazing and some have died. Hazing has no place in college life and it shouldn’t be part of Ethel Hedgeman Lyle’s legacy.

What do you think?




U of Pittsburgh’s AKA Chapter Suspension Underscores Need To Stop Hazing  was originally published on