AKA to Howard Plaintiffs: Membership Is Not Your Birthright

Members of AKA perform at a step show at Howard University. (YouTube)
Members of AKA perform at a step show at Howard University. (YouTube)

Two Howard University students who were not admitted into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority are suing the Greek-letter organization under laws including the D.C. Human Rights Act. The AKA hopefuls say that their rights were violated and they suffered emotional harm because the sorority allegedly "singled out" women whose mothers were members of the group by setting aside a limited number of spaces for them, the Huffington Post reports.


Plaintiffs Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield and their mothers argue that such "legacy" status makes AKA membership "pretty much" a "birthright" — one that the two seniors were denied when they weren't admitted. Their attorney also asked, in a motion for a temporary restraining order, for the judge to prohibit AKA from admitting new members until the issue is revolved.

In its response, the sorority says that despite the young women's belief that it was their "birthright" to become AKA members when they wished, the group's "Legacy Clause" does not guarantee membership. An excerpt from that response:

The Plaintiffs, two undergraduate women at Howard University and their mothers, bring this action because the undergraduate Plaintiffs were not selected to be initiated into AKA at this time, despite their belief that it was their “birth right” to become AKA members when they wished as Legacy Candidates because their mothers were active members in the sorority.

Despite the Plaintiffs' disappointment and complaints, AKA did not violate the "Legacy Clause" in its Constitution and Bylaws, because that is not a guarantee of membership to a particular chapter, but simply provides for a priority process. More importantly, AKA had no ability to include these young women in the 2013 intake process of its Howard Chapter, because the strict application of membership caps imposed on AKA's Howard University Chapter, in combination with AKA's own intake regulations, made their admittance at this time impossible. AKA had no authority to lift or waive these caps.

Read more at the Huffington Post.