Miss America Kira Kazantzev was on ABC’s Good Morning America to discuss hazing allegations made by a former Hofstra University pledge at the Alphia Phi sorority. Kazantzev does not dismiss the claims but rather admits to hazing under the university’s “broad definition.”
Kazantzev says that allegations are being “taken out of context” and that the hazing was minimal. Allegations were made from a former Alpha Phi pledge that Kazantzev, who was the Recruitment Committee President for her pledge class, made the pledge’s life a “living hell.” The unnamed accuser told Jezebel that pledges were subjected to a number of hazing activities under Kira’s supervision including being called names, berated for their perceived physical flaws and imperfections, and made to perform physical tasks to the point of bruising and exhaustion.
Kira herself was a victim of hazing as a pledge according to her official blog.
“The worst of the so-called hazing was standing in a line reciting information, a few sleepless nights, and crafting. I was yelled at a few times. That year, the sorority got in trouble for those actions and was disciplined by both Hofstra and the national organization. However, after being brought up through that process, my class thought the only way to gain respect in the sorority was to go through it or be seen as weak.”
Miss America does note that she oversaw some of the events where these hazing activities took place. However, she says she never was involved in physical hazing activities or profanity against a pledge.
“I was never involved with any name-calling or use of profanity toward a girl during my time with the sorority. I was never involved in any physical hazing or any degradation of physical appearance of any kind. This has all been immensely taken out of context and manipulated purposefully because I am now in a public position.”
Interestingly, the new Miss America ran on a domestic-violence awareness platform to win the pageant. Sorority members call each other sisters and live as though they are “family” meaning the actions could be seen as a type of domestic violence. Kira does say she is two years removed from the organization and has learned that those behaviors are not acceptable.
However, she says, “it’s okay to make mistakes….that’s life.” But did Miss America really learn her lesson? From the wording of her rebuttal to the allegations, it appears she may still not believe what she did was wrong. She says multiple times that she took part in “broadly defined” hazing activities or “so-called hazing.” This choice of wording says that she herself does not believe it was truly hazing.
The Miss America organization, however, is standing by Kira noting that she will use the experiences to bring awareness and empower young women.
“Kira has been fully transparent with the Miss America Organization about her termination from the Alpha Phi sorority. It’s unfortunate that this incident has been exploited to create a storyline that distracts from what we should be focusing on: Kira’s impressive academic achievements at Hofstra University, including earning a triple major from the Honors College and her commitment to serving her community. Kira is an exceptional ambassador for the Miss America Organization, and we are excited to be a part of her journey as a force for good across our nation, promoting education and service and working to empower young women.”
What do you think? Did Miss America Kira Kazantzev learn her lesson? Can she use these past experiences to increase awareness of hazing and domestic violence?
[Image Credit: Jezebel]