Kappa Alpha Theta Legacy Policy Update

If this were any other year, college students would be getting ready to return to campus, and Theta collegians would be eagerly anticipating in-person recruitment. But—as we all know—this isn’t any other year.

While 2020 continues to pose challenges for Kappa Alpha Theta, it also offers opportunities. One of those opportunities is updating and improving our recruitment practices so they reflect Theta’s values and mission.

Our values reflect our founders’ experiences as some of the earliest women to attend college. For Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie, bias and discrimination were everyday experiences, and they fought for inclusion in a frequently hostile educational and social environment. It is fitting that our new Plan of Aspirations, created in summer 2019 and officially debuting summer 2020, includes diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as a core component. As a result of this strategic plan and the voices of our members, Theta’s staff and volunteers have been evaluating key areas of operations—including recruitment—to identify biases and barriers to our members and potential new members (PNMs) with marginalized identities.

Today, we share with you that, effective immediately, Kappa Alpha Theta has eliminated all preferential treatment given to legacies during the recruitment process. This means that there will no longer be an automatic invitation following the first round of recruitment or an automatic placement on the chapter’s bid list. We acknowledge that many women are not legacies because their mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers simply did not have the same access to higher education or the means to join Kappa Alpha Theta. By eliminating preferential treatment for legacies, Theta ensures that PNMs are not receiving additional credit for things beyond their control, such as hometown, race, family connections, etc.

Here are several ways you can help support Theta’s recruitment policies, diversity practices, and inclusion efforts.

  • Understand the legacy policy. Throughout recruitment, legacies will fall in their natural place on the chapter’s invitation lists (including the bid list). This change is designed to allow for greater opportunities for membership, thus making Theta an inclusive, representative, and therefore stronger organization. It is important to note that the definition of a legacy has not changed. A Theta legacy is defined as a daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, or sister of a Kappa Alpha Theta member. Stepdaughters, step-granddaughters, step-great-granddaughters, and stepsisters are regarded as legacies if their family considers them as such. All potential new members, including legacies, should be warmly welcomed and recruited. Theta affirms the family connections that the legacy relationship holds, and these special bonds will be celebrated in other memorable and appropriate ways, but only after a bid has been extended.
  • Encourage young women to consider joining a sorority. Tell them about your Theta experience, prompt them to research sorority recruitment at their campus, and send them this video. We cannot encourage individuals to join Theta specifically, but we can help them see that the support and sisterhood found in sororities is more important than ever. If you don’t know any potential members personally, share Theta posts on social media or update your profile picture with your favorite Theta photo. You can direct anyone to TheSororityLife.com to learn more.
  • Submit a reference. Kappa Alpha Theta appreciates the efforts of its members who recommend outstanding young women for membership. The process of identifying qualified potential new members is a responsibility and privilege that is shared by collegians and alumnae, and both are encouraged to complete an online reference form. Legacies should be identified on the reference. References are introductions; they are not required for Theta membership, and having a reference does not guarantee an invitation to the second recruitment round. You may submit a reference if you are an alumna member of the Fraternity or an active college member of a chapter different than the one that a potential new member is seeking to join. Because of the unknowns surrounding recruitment and our members' ability to return to campus, we ask that all potential new member references be submitted using the online reference form.

Over the past month—through emails, an online petition, and organized listening sessions—Thetas encouraged Grand Council to modernize our policies and practices regarding legacies. We greatly value this input and the thoughtful conversations that resulted. Kappa Alpha Theta is committed to values-based recruitment, to continuing to evolve as an organization. We are committed to making every PNM feel welcomed and important, to having a meaningful conversation, even in the face of challenges such as virtual recruitment. We believe that this change to the legacy policy will allow for PNMs to value the recruitment process as an equitable opportunity. We are also committed to continue enhancing our current efforts and exploring additional means to provide our members with an inclusive and supportive experience, both as alumnae and collegians. If you have questions, please direct them to info@kappaalphatheta.org, and thank you for helping to ensure a safe, robust, and relevant recruitment effort in 2020-21 … and beyond.