The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Sorority suspended after Greek Week fails to unify

 

Kappa Phi Beta sorority was suspended April 10 for acts committed by several of its members against another sorority, according to Omar Estrada Torres, the director of Judicial Affairs.

The incident began during Greek Week, when there was a conflict between some members of Kappa Phi Beta and those of another sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, according to Mary Pelkowski, the director of Leadership Development. In reaction, members of Kappa Phi Beta went into the University Center Commons and ripped posters and other materials down from Gamma Phi Beta’s bulletin board, throwing them into the garbage.

“[This] was something that I cannot condone at the University,” Torres said.

He added that the students responsible came forward and admitted that they had committed the acts.

“They came to me on Friday afternoon after Greek Week,” Pelkowski said. “And Monday [the tenth] those organizations met with Natalie [Maio, the Associate Director of Leadership].”

Pelkowski stressed that the conflict was not as much between the two sororities as it was between certain students within the organizations.

“I don’t think it’s an organizational issue at all,” she said.

Claudia Ferreira, the president of Kappa Phi Beta, expressed her sorority’s regret over the incident.

“The sisters of Kappa Phi Beta were involved in what they felt, at the time, was a prank, to be laughed at,” she said. “Once they realized the severity of their actions and the consequences involved, they accepted that they were wrong.

“Although I was unaware of the situation I apologized on the behalf of our sorority to the other organization involved,” Ferreira continued.

Pelkowski applauded both Ferreira and Allison Morrocco, the president of Gamma Phi Beta, for their reactions to the conflict between their organizations.

“Both presidents have been extremely supportive [and] have done nothing but cooperate with Omar and me and lead by example,” Pelkowski said.

“I don’t want the organization to think that this is a reflection of their leadership overall,” Torres said. “It’s not.”

Kappa Phi Beta’s suspension, according to Student Life, will begin with a suspension that lasts through the end of the academic year. This includes the removal of their table from the U.C. Commons, a measure that was first taken as part of the suspension of Tau Kappa Epsilon and is now automatic with the suspension of any Greek organization.

The punishment will also include a mandatory 30 hours of community service for every active member of the sorority, and three leadership workshops which they must attend during the summer.

“Once they complete all the sanctions and redirection that we’ve provided to them, they will petition to myself, and they must provide the steps to me on how they will continue to behave in a good light,” Torres said. “I will have a meeting with Mary and Natalie to review their status and I will make the decision [on whether or not to reinstate them.]”

According to Ferreira, Kappa Phi Beta feels that the punishment that has been handed to them is a fair one, and in particular thanked Pelkowski for her help and support.

“Due to her outspokenness on Kappa Phi Beta’s behalf, our suspension was minimal,” she said. “We are working together to carry out our necessary obligations over the summer.”

One remaining source of controversy in the issue stems from the creation of a common interest group on the Web site facebook.com. The group, named “FREE KAPPA!” was created shortly after the incident, and after having 77 members at one point, it has since been removed from the Web site.

Regarding the Free Kappa group, Pelkowski said “I emailed Claudia- and told her that it’s probably not in the best light for her organization.”

Ferreira said of the group, “It in no way is an attempt to portray Kappa Phi Beta’s feelings towards the administration. It was created by a couple of sisters in an attempt to laugh about a bad situation and lift the sorority’s spirits.

“There was never a malicious or condescending intent,” Ferreira said.

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