Bart Harvey, ’16
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Dean Frederick Alford notified the Trinity College community that the Zeta Theta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was found innocent of violating the College’s hazing policy. However, the sorority was found guilty of violating the College’s social host policy and being “misleading” about its new member initiation plans. The Honor Council charges began after the Hartford Police Department received an anonymous tip on Thursday, Nov. 14 stating that it was Kappa Kappa Gamma’s “Hell Week” and the prospective members of the sorority were being forced to sleep in a loft owned by Kappa and located above the sorority’s garage.
Under Trinity’s new social policy, there are very strict guidelines as to what constitutes “hazing” in the updated student handbook. Therefore, when President Jones was contacted by the Hartford Police,he requested the matter be investigated. During the Honor Council’s investigation, it became apparent that Kappa had also “failed to abide by the College social host rules and the rules governing the integration of new members into the organization,” Dean Alford wrote in an email to the Trinity Community.
These matters were then taken to the Student Honor Council to determine whether the organization had violated College policy and the appropriate punishments if they faced guilty verdicts. Kappa was now under the microscope and the Honor Council found themselves in an unprecedented situation, as it was the first case involving a violation of the new social policy that had been introduced in October of last year. Internally, Kappa decided that it was in their best interest to elect Emily Misencik ’14 to be acting president and handle the accusations from the College. The investigation began, according to Misencik, when Dean Card investigated the anonymous tip and found new members of the sorority above the loft and and asked that they leave. However, Misencik stated that the new members were not being forced to sleep there. “We were having a party later that evening and those girls were getting ready and hanging out before the party,” she explained.
The Honor Council came to the unanimous decision that there was not enough evidence to indicate that Kappa had violated the College’s hazing policy. The Council “could find no evidence to suggest that the women who were sleeping in a heated room in an outbuilding that the sorority uses as its Chapter Room were there under duress or that they were engaged in activities that would have violated the hazing policy. The council did not believe that the women were required to spend the night, and the weight of the evidence indicated that many new members did not participate,” explained Dean Alford in a campus-wide email. “Kappa Kappa Gamma doesn’t support hazing and neither does Trinity. They both have very intense definitions of hazing and so I was really happy that the Honor Council found us not guilty of that because that was my main goal going into the [case],” Misencik stated.
However, the Honor Council did find Kappa guilty of violating the social host policy. “The panel… found that the sorority had violated the social host policy by hosting an unregistered social event and disrupting the lives of neighbors and had not been forthright about that event,” explained Dean Alford.
The Council voted 4-1 in favor of stripping Kappa’s ability to take on new members this academic year, prohibiting any new or prospective members from all activities of the sorority, and forbidding the sorority to recruit new members until next fall at the earliest. In addition, the remaining members of the organization are unable to sponsor or co-sponsor social events between now and September 2014. After this time, the sorority may petition the Dean of Students to have their social and new member privileges restored. Kappa submitted an appeal to the Honor Council shortly after the decision was announced. Misencik stated that the grounds of their appeal were on, “the punishments being directed at the new members, but we are not appealing the unregistered party, we are taking full responsibility for that.”
The Honor Council charged the sorority as a whole, not individual members. “I hope no one [individually] felt persecuted,” Dean Alford explained. “The disciplinary process is meant to allow objective members of the community to uphold the College rules and standards.” Misencik stressed that Kappa Kappa Gamma is looking to put this incident behind them. They plan to start fresh next fall when the sorority can rebuild their image by going through the “new member orientation program that is approved by the Dean of Students Office,” according to Dean Alford.
“Kappa was not found responsible for hazing as we ensure the health and well-being of all of our members. We are committed to the ideals of Kappa and desire to be contributing members of the Trinity community and we are working with our national organization [in order to be] committed to shaping the Greek experience that supports a positive growth of members involved,” Misencik remarked.