Newly Crowned Miss America Defends Being Kicked Out Of Her Sorority After Hazing Allegations

Miss New York Kira KazantsevREUTERS/Adrees LatifMiss New York Kira Kazantsev (front) reacts as she is crowned the winner of the 2015 Miss America Competition by Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri in Atlantic City, New Jersey September 14, 2014.

Miss New York Kira Kazantsev was crowned Miss America 2014 last week, but she’s already the subject of a pageant scandal.

“In late April 2013, Kazantsev and a friend were both kicked out of the Alpha Phi sorority at Hofstra University on Long Island after hazing pledges,” Jezebel reported Monday. “At the time, Kazantsev was serving as the sorority’s head of recruitment.”

The 23-year-old beauty queen responded to the allegations on “Good Morning America,” saying, “They’re just not true.”

Miss america Kira KazantsevAP Photo/Mel EvansKira Kazantsev was the third Miss New York in a row to win Miss America earlier this month.

“I’m incredibly hurt that someone has said these things.” she said, admitting, “Under the broad definition of hazing, yes, I was involved in some of those activities while at Hofstra. I came in as an impressionable freshman, everybody wants to be a part of something, and at the time, unfortunately, that was just the culture of the organisation.”Kira wrote alengthy blog post defending herself, explaining that shejokedabout hazing in an email and when she didn’t attend a judiciary hearing after being summoned bythe national Alpha Phi office, she was terminated from the sorority.

A spokeswoman from the Miss America organisation says they are standing by Kira, telling telling Jezebel:

Kira has been fully transparent with the MissAmerica Organisation about her termination from the Alpha Phi sorority. It’s unfortunate that this incident has been exploited to create a storyline that distracts from what we should be focusing on: Kira’s impressive academic achievements at Hofstra University, including earning a triple major from the Honours College and her commitment to serving her community.

Kira, who triple-majored in political science, global studies and geography, maintained a 3.6 GPA during her time at Hoftsra and has reportedly been accepted to Fordham University’s Law School, where, according to her website, she “plans to pursue work in women’s issues and international diplomacy.”

Read more of her blog post addressing the hazing allegations below:

I’d like to address one specific issue that has popped up in the media. Because what type of role model would I be if I told people, young women especially, that you can’t make mistakes? That’s not real life.

When I entered the sorority recruitment process at Hofstra University in Spring 2010, I decided to join a sorority for the social life but I also thought that I was joining a legacy of success and philanthropy. My friends were joining, and for fear of being left out, I joined too. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what I was signing up for.

The worst of the so-called hazing was standing in a line reciting information, a few sleepless nights, and crafting. I was yelled at a few times. That year, the sorority got in trouble for those actions and was disciplined by both Hofstra and the national organisation. However, after being brought up through that process, my class thought the only way to gain respect in the sorority was to go through it or be seen as weak.

Later on, I had the opportunity to be the New Member Educator for a semester. It was a very rewarding experience as you get to connect with the recruits on a very deep level. However, I did oversee some pledging events as part of my job description, similar to those described above. Furthermore, my termination from Alpha Phi surrounded entirely different circumstances and I would like to use this opportunity to further explain.

When I was a senior, as one of the older sisters in the sorority, I was asked by a new member educator at the time to send an email to alumni asking them to attend an event. In the email, I joked that we could make the evening scary for the pledges. That statement was a joke — we never intended to actually engage in the wrongful behaviour that I have been accused of — and the alumni event I spoke of never came to fruition anyway. But this is when I learned a very important communications lesson that will stick with me for life.

The email was forwarded by someone to the national organisation. Based on that information, the national office summoned me for a judiciary hearing. At the time, it was the end of the school year. Finals, graduation, and moving to New York City were at the forefront of my concerns. Based on the fact that I did not attend this hearing that was the official reason given for my termination.

I was never involved with any name-calling or use of profanity toward a girl during my time with the sorority. I was never involved in any physical hazing or any degradation of physical appearance of any kind. This has all been immensely taken out of context and manipulated purposefully because I am now in a public position.

The nameless source that is saying these things is doing exactly what it is that I was wrongfully accused of.

Now that I’m 2 years removed from that experience at the sorority, I’ve learned what healthy relationships are, and can better speak to what young girls entering college should avoid and it has further developed my platform, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence.”

I’m also proud to say that Alpha Phi Theta Mu of Hofstra University is an upstanding organisation that has completely abandoned these practices and I’m incredibly proud of the work they do as an organisation.

I understand that it can sometimes be hard for women to help other women. It’s so sad but I see it happening over and over. The Miss America sisterhood has taught me what true sisterhood is. It is a group of women that has elevated itself from that pettiness and is able to be happy for one another instead of trying to tear each other down.

I was one of those girls who fell victim not only to the abuse of an intimate partner but the abuse of people who I thought were my friends. In response, I imposed that attitude unto others because I thought it was right. Today, I am proud to say — as I have said before — that I have lived a lot of life in my 23 years. I have made mistakes, and I have made magnificent triumphs, most importantly the one that happened to me on September 14 in Atlantic City.

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