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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, August 10, 2015 07:33 AM, by Carole Touma
Carole Touma
Epsilon Mu/Princeton
It always begins with a seemingly benign question.

"Carole, you speak French?"

I slowly nod my head, already dreading the next question.

"'re French?"

I was hoping you'd just stop there. I respond hesitantly, "No, not exactly."

"What are you, then?"

Here we go.

I am the proud daughter of a Haitian mother and a Lebanese father.

To provide a bit of background, both countries were colonized by France. Hence, both of my parents speak French. Hence, I speak French.

Alas, this ostensibly simple explanation is typically interrupted by more pressing matters...people stop listening after the very first sentence.
"Did you just say that you're half black?"

Why the surprise? Well, see for yourself.

Continue reading Carole's blog post on Medium. Kappa Alpha Theta values all her members and advocates dialogue to promote inclusion.

Carole Touma, Epsilon Mu/Princeton, will be a junior this fall.

Posted On: Wednesday, March 4, 2015 08:00 AM, by Amy Hayner Kates
Amy Hayner Kates
Fraternity Ritualist
Since I graduated from college, I have been given the great gift of perspective that I did not have as a young person. The layers of life add color and beauty to each experience and moment.

As a former Fraternity president and current Fraternity ritualist, I have had the privilege of speaking the words in our ritual services quite a few times. With each experience, I feel the meaning of our ritual more deeply, adding more substance to these layers of my life. Now that I'm older and have spoken to countless Thetas, I have found others who feel the same way.

But what about our ritual is relevant beyond the memories we've made in a ritual setting? How does our ritual cross that barrier from words to actions that further develop us as members of Kappa Alpha Theta?

  1. Train your mind and soul. I realized that through our ritual, Theta gave me the courage to be the leading woman I emulated. An all-women's environment can provide a supportive place to learn, experiment, succeed, and sometimes fail. Theta gave me that opportunity, and trained me to be a leader, giving me skills that I use every day at work and at home.

    I challenge you to connect what you learn to who you are as a person. Be worthy of someone's emulation: "If life brings you in contact with all sorts of people, rejoice rather than repine, for if you have in you the elements of leadership and true nobility of character, they will shine forth and lead you to the performance of something worthy, the trained mind and soul." (Kate Stevens, Psi/Wisconsin, 1901).

  2. Earnestly and actively seek ways to serve. What if every Theta made our ritual such a part of her life that she "cultivated [this] power of giving [by] encouraging the honest performance of duty, and not just because of the high demands of Theta or our institutions?" (as suggested by Kate Stevens). What if her service not only benefited her chapter, but each person with whom she comes in contact?

    I have witnessed the power of our organization and the difference we make. I am proud of and motivated by my Theta sisters to be a community servant. Theta brought me to the amazing work of CASA, which I support financially through Theta Foundation and with my time. It is a reward that has made my everyday life more fulfilling.

  3. Establish your truth. My integrity became more solid when I made my vows to Theta. I was fortunate that my parents helped instill values during my childhood. But it was the group sharing of ideals that reinforced the foundation and made me more self-assured in my own personal ethics. Seeing the impact that individuals have on those who surround them has made me more caring and compassionate. Theta helped shape my ability to confront and support individuals and groups based on these values. Theta put her belief in my integrity, and I in hers. Do you believe in you? Theta does.

  4. Demonstrate the inspiration attained by being a member of our diverse organization. I aspire to do more because I am a Theta. Big or small, nothing gives me greater joy than to feel like I've made a positive impact in the life of another person. Theta ritual has taught me that I can turn any situation into a better one by being that inspiration. When I started to look at life through the lens of aspiration, things began to bloom like never before.

    Every day we make decisions, and, as recent Ohio Wesleyan graduate Rachel Vinciguerra, Gamma deuteron, says, "Our ritual acknowledges that things are not always easy. Step back and realize that all we need is faith in one another and in ourselves, hope that we're doing something positive, and the love it takes to be there for one another through this journey." Ask yourself: What would the outcome be if I made each decision based on the woman I aspire to be?

  5. Further a spirit of unity within a group. Friendship takes on new meaning once you see the values described in our ritual, supported by those closest to you. As an organization, our first goal is friendship, which is an awesome standard. What if every organization started with friendship, and every action was rooted in that principle? Wouldn't the world be a better place? My Theta sisters know what true friendship means: peaks and valleys, celebrations and funerals. Throughout my life, Theta love has and will continue to enfold me.

I invite you to support each other in remaining loyal to the commitments we've made. Review our ritual, attend a service, and/or communicate with local college and alumnae chapters in your area for other opportunities. Do this not just during National Ritual Celebration Week, but whenever you need guidance. Come back to the ritual, for her sisterly hand will always be waiting to clasp yours.

Amy Hayner Kates, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is the ritualist for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and is a former Fraternity president. She is a member of the New Orleans Alumnae Chapter.

Posted On: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 10:00 AM, by Lindsay Sell
There appears to be a never-ending string of stories in the media detailing the inappropriate party themes used by fraternities and sororities at campuses across the country. These inappropriate themes often ask members to dress and act in ways stereotypically connected to particular identities. Take, for example, the Duke fraternity that hosted an "Asia Prime" party known as the "racist rager," or another Duke fraternity who, a few years prior, hosted a "Pilgrims and Indians" party. Or consider the Penn State sorority that hosted a Mexican-themed party. In each of these examples, members and their guests dressed in stereotypical attire and posed in offensive pictures that were subsequently shared with the media. In each of these instances, public outrage followed.

The reality is that fraternities and sororities often host themed social events. Themes for these events add a novel element and can be a fun way to connect with one another and our guests. When those themes marginalize entire groups of people, even people whose identities might be represented in the chapter hosting the event, we run afoul of our organizational values and create a negative and unsafe environment for entire groups of people.

The public apologies offered by chapters hosting these inappropriate parties often indicate that the organization's intention wasn't to offend, that they were just trying to have fun. These apologies often come after the media has secured photos from these events or seen public invitations via forums like Facebook, leading one to wonder how many events with inappropriate themes are hosted that don't receive attention and are left unaddressed. The processing of these events presents an opportunity to understand the difference between intent and impact.

The impact of our actions can be and often are very different from our intentions, and both are important to consider in our decision-making. Understanding the impact our behaviors have on others, despite our good intentions, helps us be more empathetic and adjust our behaviors to be more inclusive and thoughtful. When determining a party theme, it might be wise to consider what the impact of that theme might be on members of our organizations, our campus communities, and the larger community we're all part of, instead of acknowledging only our own good intentions and offering that as rationale to proceed.

As members of Kappa Alpha Theta, we agree to live by a common set of values. Those values call for us to exercise our widest influence for good. When we think about our intentions and our impact, we are better able to understand the way our individual and organizational decisions impact others and are then able to ensure those decisions do good and not harm. I hope we can all be thoughtful of this when hosting events and as we hold our peers accountable for their events. I hope our decisions to not host social events with inappropriate themes are motivated by our authentic understanding of the impact of that theme and less by our fear of getting caught. And more than anything, I hope that we can ensure all our actions as members of this organization, including those related to our social events, are reflective of our values and commitment to the widest influence for good because they consider both our intentions and our impact.

Lindsay Sell, Beta Gamma/Colorado State, is the extension committee chairman for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and is a charter Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Monday, February 18, 2013 12:31 PM, by Corey Burnett
Corey Burnett
In serving the Fraternity as an educational leadership consultant, I have found that every day I have the privilege of meeting, discovering, and getting to know women who are just like me: a Theta. A characteristic that transcends any physical attribute and inherently becomes a part of who you are. Being a Theta is not about having to fit a mold; it is about being you. Thetas come in many variations, with each member contributing a vivid and bright stroke of paint that shapes the "Portrait of Kappa Alpha Theta."

A member's ability to contribute a distinctive perspective comes from the diverse nature of information, knowledge, and experience that she has acquired over her lifetime. Living by Theta's values on a daily basis only enhances the ideals and understanding of each member's own background.

Throughout my collegiate years and my alumnae experience, I have been able to extend my familiarity past the conventional subjects of diversity, to understand diversity in the interests of individuals that can contribute to a group of friends or a classroom conversation. While traveling for Theta, I have been afforded the opportunity to continue to learn from and interact with students from many experiential perspectives, while contributing my own broad and unique insight. Each day, I am excited to interact with college women who are with me on this quest to learn from each other with innovative and forward thinking. It is my hope that all members of Theta utilize their membership experience to always remain curious about the "Portrait of Theta."

I am proud to be a member, legacy, and employee of an amazing organization that is committed to developing today's college women into today's leaders. That is exactly what makes Kappa Alpha Theta a masterpiece: our make-up of women from every walk of life, all brought together because of one thing—the belief in sisterhood and support.

As I celebrate Black History Month this February and reflect on my own perspective, I also reflect on my membership experience, and I celebrate the history and individual uniqueness of our organization, chapters, and members.

Corey Burnett, Omicron/USC, is a second-year educational leadership consultant for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.