The Black Greek Letter community was rocked by recent news that the nation’s oldest African American sorority was being sued for violation of human rights and allegations of hazing.
In a lawsuit filed on Feb. 28 in federal court, Howard students Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield allege the sorority’s Alpha chapter barred them from entry due to their familial status. The young women happen to be “legacies,” meaning their mothers are members of the sorority.
Attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, Laura Cofield and mother Lessie Cofield appeared in a Fox television interview to explain their reasoning behind the lawsuit.
Gordon called the lawsuit a “breach of contract case,” saying Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s “by-laws and constitution has a legacy clause.”
“What that clause says is that ‘If you do certain things as a member; if you remain active, remain financial in the organization, then you have the right to bestow the legacy status upon your daughter,’ so Miss Cofield did everything she was supposed to do to be able to benefit from that right,” he said.
The Sorority, founded Jan. 15, 1908, issued the following statement:
Despite the plaintiff’s disappointments and complaints, AKA did not violate the legacy clause in its constitution and by-laws because that is not a guarantee of membership to a particular chapter, but simply provides for priority process.
Gordon refuted that statement, saying, “It is a guarantee of membership provided that the candidate does everything they’re supposed to do. It does allow a priority. Legacies go first and then everybody else afterwards. These are not our rules. This is in the AKA constitution.”
Lessie Cofield, a 30-year member of AKA, called the rejection of her daughter’s entry into her beloved sorority “personal” given the fact she has done her service, “supported fund-raisers,” and “attended chapter meetings.”
“This is where most of my friends are,” said Cofield, who is an Alpha chapter initiate. “Most of my friends either pledged me or I pledge them. My husband also graduated from Howard. We have a big circle of friends. My friends have known my daughter her whole life and watched her grow up to become a remarkable young woman. They are actually saddened by the fact she is not on the line.”
Laura Cofield says the biggest misconception is that she feels she is entitled to wear the letters of Pink and Green. But she does feel she did everything she was “supposed to do as a student.”
“I’ve always kept my grades up, I’ve been very, very active on my campus, I’ve really honestly been a model student,” she said.
The young women alleged they were subjected to hazing rituals, which included being called “weak b——” and being forbidden from wearing pink and green colors and white pearls.
The young women are reportedly seeking monetary damages and want the court to halt the sorority’s pledge process.
Watch Laura Cofield’s Fox Interview Below