Following confusion between Ohio State’s Office of Student Life and the Panhellenic Association, the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority has been reinstated — but not without some roadblocks and head scratching along the way.
In a first for OSU, representatives from all PHA-governed sororities voted in April to decide whether to allow KKG back on campus following their suspension for hazing, and nine of the 16 PHA sororities voted against it.
KKG was suspended from OSU campus in the spring of 2015 following an incident in which a 19-year-old pledge was hit by a car near the KKG house while intoxicated.
“The facts made it clear that the culture within the chapter needed to be changed,” said KKG National President Beth Black following Beta Nu’s suspension.
It turns out the vote in April, where reinstatement was vetoed, was never actually necessary, according to Kate Butler, associate director of Sorority and Fraternity Life at OSU, and Lindsay Turoff, OSU Panhellenic president.
The KKG reinstatement fell solely on OSU’s Office of Student Life, per the original agreement made between the two parties, which was not brought to the attention of PHA general members and delegates until weeks after the vote. This unknown fact left many wondering why the discussions and vote took place, as well as wondering if their input was heard by Student Life.
Butler acknowledged the confusion over the reinstatement process and attributed it to it being the first time something like this has happened at OSU. She said there are no established guidelines for Greek organizations leaving campus and coming back.
“With no clear and definitive guidance on the process for reinstatement, some parties have been confused over the exact process by which the organization should return to campus, including the need for the local PHA to vote on the matter,” Butler said in an email. “This lack of clear or definitive guidance for a request for reinstatement implies a deference to an individual school’s established conduct processes.”
Some members of the Greek community are concerned about KKG’s return to campus, as the sorority’s hazing culture reportedly stuck around after its suspension in activity conducted by previously-initiated members.
In response to the reinstatement, Danielle Di Scala, the former USG vice president and an alumna of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, tweeted, “Disappointing. Chapters who have engaged in hazing + continued to make light of it throughout their suspension have no place on campus..”
According to the original agreement made when KKG left campus, in 2015, it had to be the next sorority brought to campus before any new sororities could colonize.
KKG has deep-rooted Ohio State ties. It was the first sorority on OSU’s campus and has its national headquarters located in Columbus.
Butler added that KKG had met all necessary requirements to return to campus and all sanctions had been completed. When pressed for specifics, though, details were thin.
The Lantern has requested the document which obtains the said requirements, but has not received it upon this article’s publication.
Turoff, echoed Butler’s points while welcoming KKG back to campus as well.
“Regarding the confusion about the return of Kappa Kappa Gamma-Beta Nu chapter, the university and Student Life were responsible for the decisions surrounding their previous suspension and eligibility to return,” Turoff said in a statement. “The Panhellenic Association originally had chapters vote due to guidance from our national representatives.”
Hazing in Greek life has gained national headlines recently. Members Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity face manslaughter charges for their role in the death of 19-year-old member Timothy Piazza.
This was not the first hazing-related incident of recent memory regarding KKG. In 2014 at the University of Connecticut, the sorority was suspended from campus for four years for alcohol-related hazing.
KKG is set to return to OSU after its two-year hiatus and will be able to participate in recruitment in 2018, said KKG spokeswoman Ashley Moyer.
KKG national president Beth Black sent a statement expressing the sorority’s excitement about the return of the Beta Nu chapter to its inaugural home.
“The reinstatement terms and agreement initially set by Office of Student Conduct at Ohio State were reviewed as assessed and the administration determined that Kappa Kappa Gamma was eligible to return to campus in Spring 2018,” Black said. “We look forward to working together to rejoin the Greek community… as the first Greek-letter women’s organization on campus, Kappa Kappa Gamma has always been honored to be part of The Ohio State University community.”
A full reinstatement and recruitment plan is being developed by KKG National Headquarters.