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Thursday, December 7, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Thursday, December 7, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Re-Entry Moots Suit by Ousted Sorority Sisters

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by two longstanding sorority members who briefly got the boot after they sued over the group's exclusion of their daughters.

Though Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. had withdrawn the membership privileges of Sandra Compton and Lessie Cofield in March 2013, shortly after the Howard University alumnae and their respective daughters sued the group, AKA reinstated the mothers last year when the lawsuit proved difficult to dismiss.

U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer found Wednesday that Compton and Cofield's reinstatement renders their action moot.

A ruling Collyer issued in the case last year gave a more thorough recitation of what brought the women to court: AKA's denial of membership to Laurin Compton and Lauren Cofield, the respective daughters of Sandra and Lessie.

Laurin and Lauren had pledged AKA as freshman "legacy candidates" but refused to participate in what they considered hazing during the initiation process in spring 2010.

AKA's chapter at Howard University, known as the Alpha Chapter, ultimately faced an investigation over its hazing practices in 2011 and then a two-year suspension from recruiting new members.

When AKA resumed the "rush" process in January 2013, Laurin and Lauren applied as seniors, were subjected to a vote despite their "legacy" status and then denied membership.

The women complained that AKA and Howard had retaliated against them and violated sorority bylaws, but Collyer found they failed to state claim on issues such as breach of contract and negligence.

Collyer had allowed only the mothers' ultra vires act claims to stand, ruling that the sorority's stripping of the mothers' membership privileges might have been retaliatory.

When the sorority reinstated Sandra and Lessie, they claimed they were still sue other equitable remedies.

Collyer agreed with the sorority Wednesday that the mothers "have received all available relief."

Alpha Kappa Alpha was founded in 1908 and incorporated in 1913.

The previous ruling by Collyer highlighted both harmless and insidious forms of hazing that Laurin and Lauren reported.

In addition to having candidates avoid wearing the sorority's official colors, pink and green, "candidates were 'commanded to contact random [s]oros daily at a certain hour on the minute."

"If they failed to do so, the [candidates] would be forced to suffer and endure verbal abuse,'" Collyer wrote. "The daughters also recount instances in which candidates were 'heckled, harangued, and humiliated ... in front of their peers,' 'mentally tormented by [s]oros,' and 'restricted from speaking with friends ... and warned not to report abuses.'"

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