Alpha Kappa Alpha returns to Dartmouth
By Brook Jackling, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, February 4, 2008
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., an African American sorority, will return to Dartmouth in the Spring or Fall of 2008, according to an e-mail sent by Fouad Saleet, associate director of Coed, Fraternities and Sororities Administration, to various campus organizations on Feb. 1. The Xi Lambda Chapter, founded at Dartmouth in 1983, has been inactive since 2003.
"I, along with the ladies of Rho Epsilon Omega [graduate chapter], are excited and anxious to have an Alpha Kappa Alpha presence back on the campus," Evelyn Sample Oates, regional director for AKA, wrote in the e-mail.
In fall 2002, the international organization of AKA placed a moratorium on the acceptance of new members into all of its chapters due to "management issues," Saleet's e-mail said. Though the moratorium was recently lifted, allowing chapters at other institutions to re-establish themselves, the Dartmouth chapter became inactive in 2003 when all of the members of the Xi Lambda chapter had graduated.
Dartmouth's geographic location has presented a challenge for the re-activation of AKA, which requires every chapter to have a graduate advisor attend sorority meetings and events. The closest alumnae chapters to the College are two or three hours away, said Erika Robinson, AKA's academic affinity and special interest programs community director. This distance makes it difficult for advisors to have a high level of involvement with the local chapter.
The Rho Epsilon Omega graduate chapter in Wellesley, Mass., will sponsor the re-establishment of AKA at Dartmouth. Rho Epsilon Omega sponsored the Xi Lambda chapter at the College from 1983 to 2003.
"[Sorority members] would travel down to Boston, meet with their graduate chapter and work that way," Robinson said. "There was always a concern that nobody was here with them on campus but we worked through it because they were terrific, bright, great women and role models for other sororities."
CFS has communicated with the international organization over the past five years to express student interest in AKA's return to campus.
"It's regular communication and I mean regular--it's on the agenda every term," Saleet said in an interview with The Dartmouth. "From our office's perspective, [Black sororities are] important to the fabric of the Dartmouth community. We need to get them back because they were here before, and when they were here they were tremendous."
Dartmouth's chapter of AKA maintained a membership of five to 10 women during each of its 20 years at the College. The organization hosted over 20 programs each term, said Andrea Salone '03, a former president of the Xi Lambda chapter. Events included a week-long symposium on race, class and gender and an annual basketball game to raise money for the Children's Defense Fund.
"It was an integral part of my Dartmouth experience," Salone said. "We were only six people, but we were doing about three times as much programming as houses with 200 members. Everyone had a large grasp on campus outside of the sorority as well."
The organization was also a member of the Greek Leadership Council and worked in conjunction with the Panhellenic Council, said Deb Carney, director of CFS.
AKA, founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 1908, was the first African American sorority in the United States. It currently has over 950 chapters in the U.S., the Caribbean, Japan, Korea and Germany.