The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority will receive “harsh penalties” for allowing two unrecognized fraternities to participate in their kickball tournament, Panhellenic Association officials said earlier this week.
Panhellenic Association President Courtney Tallman described the sorority’s actions as a “major infraction” according to National Panhellenic Conference rules and said the group will be “subject to harsh penalties.” The Panhellenic Association is the governing body for GW’s eight sororities.
Student Activities Center Director Tim Miller expelled unrecognized groups Sigma Alpha Mu and Sigma Alpha Epsilon from the Nov. 7 sorority-sponsored kickball tournament. He said the sorority was in violation of a relationship statement that all eight sorority presidents signed last April prohibiting formal association with unrecognized groups. Kappa Kappa Gamma leaders did not respond to multiple interview requests for this story.
There are four unrecognized fraternities on campus, according to the Student Activities Center Web site. Unrecognized groups are not subject to University regulations and do not receive funding or on-campus housing.
Tallman said the Panhellenic Association created the relationship statement to “make it clear to unrecognized fraternities that they will no longer be tolerated.”
On Monday, the sorority will have a mediation session with an unbiased arbiter, which will determine its sanction from the University, Tallman said. The group’s national organization will also be involved in the judicial process and may choose to discipline the group. Panhellenic Association and Kappa Kappa Gamma national officials said they have not yet made any decisions about how to discipline the group.
Sanctions can range from educational sanctions – where sororities review their group’s values to reinforce their mission – to losing University recognition.
“Unrecognized fraternities are infringing on our Greek community and are continually ruining our image,” Tallman said.
If Kappa Kappa Gamma is sanctioned, it would be the second sorority since September to be disciplined. In October, Alpha Epsilon Phi received educational sanctions from their national organization after undergoing Student Judicial Services hearings for hazing allegations. The allegations included making new members wear uncomfortable clothing and pennies in their shoes. SJS negotiated an agreement with Alpha Epsilon Phi to allow the national organization to decide the sanctions.
“We want to educate the chapter on policies they are knowledgeable of,” said Bonnie Wunsch, executive director of Alpha Epsilon Phi’s national organization. “We want to implement these policies to their fullest extent.”
Leaders from the unrecognized groups said they felt their expulsion from the event was unfair and that they should not have been prohibited from participating in the kickball tournament.
“Our relationship with the University and that of other off-campus fraternities is strained because the University wishes that we would all go away, but we refuse to do so,” Sigma Alpha Epsilon President Andrew Kalt wrote in an e-mail. Sigma Alpha Epsilon lost University recognition in 1993.
Kalt said the statement was created to inhibit the growth of unrecognized groups and make them appear less attractive to potential members. Calling the rules governing Greek-letter groups “unproductive,” he said the statement could be “harmful” and “counterproductive” for philanthropic activities. Kappa Kappa Gamma’s kickball tournament was a charity event.
“The University’s rules regarding Greek organizations clearly indicate that the school has an unrealistic idea of what a fraternity or sorority is about and would surely eliminate all of them if it were not a good selling point for potential incoming students,” Kalt said.
Sigma Alpha Mu President James Daley said his group is subject to the regulations of its national organization, though it failed to receive GW recognition when it formed three years ago. He added that his group has won a National Outstanding Community Service Award two years in a row and has been voted the best Sigma Alpha Mu chapter on the Eastern Seaboard by its national headquarters.
Daley said his group also participates in philanthropic activities such as tutoring programs in D.C. schools. “The University feels very strongly that unrecognized groups do not have the right to exist and operate,” Daley wrote in an e-mail. “The University seems to believe that just because a group is not recognized by their (Interfraternity Council) standards, that that group is not recognized by any standards at all.” The IFC is GW’s governing body for recognized fraternities.