Kappa Kappa Gamma (ΚΚΓ), also known simply as Kappa, is a collegiate sorority, founded at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, United States. Although the groundwork of the organization was developed as early as 1869, the 1876 Convention voted that October 13, 1870 should be recognized as the official Founders Day, because no earlier charter date could be determined. This makes Kappa Kappa Gamma one of the oldest extant women's Greek-letter societies.
Kappa has a total membership of more than 260,000 women, with 140 collegiate chapters in the United States and Canada and 307 alumnae associations worldwide.
Kappa Kappa Gamma is a women's fraternity, because it was founded before the term "sorority" came into use. Because men were able to create fraternity groups, Kappa's founders thought they should be able to do the same. However, since it admits only women, it is referred to as a sorority. Kappa Kappa Gamma is also referred to as "KKG" and "Kappa".
The idea of Kappa Kappa Gamma was conceived in a conversation between two college women, Mary Louise Bennett and Hannah Jeannette Boyd, on a wooden bridge over a stream on the Monmouth College campus in the late 1860s. Though the coeducational college was considered progressive at the time, the women were dissatisfied with the fact that while men enjoyed membership in fraternities, women had few equivalent organizations for companionship, support, and advancement, and were instead limited to literary societies. Bennett and Boyd began to seek "the choicest spirits among the girls, not only for literary work, but also for social development", beginning with their friend Mary Moore Stewart. Stewart, Boyd, and Bennett met around 1869 in the Amateurs des Belles Lettres Hall, a literary society of which the women were active members when they first decided to form a new society. Soon after, they recruited three additional women, Anna Elizabeth Willits, Martha Louisa Stevenson, and Susan Burley Walker, to join in founding the fraternity.
The six founders met at the home of Anna Willits to lay the groundwork for the formation of the first chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, later known as the Alpha Chapter. It was there that they chose the golden key as their badge and prepared to make their official debut by ordering their badges from Lou Bennett's family jeweler. A formal charter was also drawn up by Minnie Stewart's father, who was an attorney in the state of Illinois.
The six founders declared their intention to organize as a women's fraternity when on October 13, 1870, they marched into the most public venue on Monmouth campus, the chapel, wearing their golden key badges in their hair. This day is nationally recognized by the fraternity as "Founders Day".
In 1871, the young fraternity expanded by chartering their Beta Chapter at nearby St. Mary's Seminary. The next year, the fraternity expanded again to Gamma Chapter at Smithson College and Delta Chapter at Indiana University. Though the Beta and Gamma chapters failed to survive more than a few years, the Delta chapter became the fraternity's oldest continuously active chapter (Alpha was closed in 1874 but later re-established) and contributed a great deal to the organization of the fraternity in its early years.
Since 1870, Kappa has continued to expand and has chartered 160 chapters, 138 of which are active today.
On January 2, 2018, Kappa Kappa Gamma moved their headquarters from 530 East Town Street in Columbus, Ohio to their new location at 6640 Riverside Drive in Dublin, Ohio.
The women's fraternity Pi Beta Phi was founded as I.C. Sorosis at Monmouth College in 1867. Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded at the college in 1870, and in 1888 I.C. Sorosis adopted Greek letters and changed its named to Pi Beta Phi. Because both fraternities have their origins at the same college within three years of one another, they are often called "The Monmouth Duo". On campuses with Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma chapters, the groups often hold joint social and philanthropic events.
Kappa Kappa Gamma recognizes the following official fraternity symbols:
Kappa Kappa Gamma used "Tradition of Leadership" as a tagline in many previous fraternity publications, but, as of June 2012, the new fraternity tagline was changed to "Aspire to Be".
Collegiate chapters contain a governing body of members that include a President, Treasurer, Secretary and officers assigned to chapter functions such as membership, standards, events, and philanthropy. Often these officers supervise committees as well. The chapter officers are advised by and report to alumnae volunteers who serve as chapter advisors, traveling chapter consultants, and fraternity council officers.
The national fraternity council consists of eight alumnae serving as President, Vice President, Treasurer, Director of Alumnae, Director of Chapters, Director of Membership, Director of Programs and Education, and Director of Standards. The fraternity headquarters is located in Columbus, Ohio, at the address 530 East Town Street, Columbus, Ohio 43215.
Kappa is a member organization of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), an umbrella organization that includes 26 American sororities. Kappa Kappa Gamma is one of the founders of the NPC, which was organized at a meeting of seven sororities in 1902 in an effort to establish guidelines and practices to regulate sorority membership.
In order to join Kappa Kappa Gamma, potential new members (PNMs) must be enrolled at a college or university with an active chapter of the fraternity. They must also have a minimum grade point average (GPA) to be considered eligible. Women must participate in sorority recruitment and if they are issued an invitation to join, they enter the New Member period, the first of three phases of membership. After six to eight weeks, New Members are initiated and enter the second phase of membership as active collegiate members. Upon graduation, members enter the third and final phase of membership and become alumnae. Alumnae have the opportunity to join local alumna associations and remain active participants in fraternity life by engaging in social and philanthropic events, volunteering as advisers to collegiate chapters, and serving as fraternity council officers.
Kappa Kappa Gamma supports a three-part Philanthropy program, often referred to as "Philanthropy 1-2-3".
According to G. William Domhoff, in Who Rules America? (Seventh edition, p. 57), upper-class college women "joined one of the four or five sororities with nationwide social prestige (e.g. Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Pi Beta Phi, and Delta Delta Delta)."
In 1997 the television show 20/20 featured an exposé on hazing in the sorority system that included a hazing by three members of Kappa Kappa Gamma at DePauw University and a local sorority Lambda Delta Sigma at Concordia College. The three members of Kappa Kappa Gamma, on November 6, 1997, were accused of branding three pledges with cigarettes in a family hazing rite after a night of heavy drinking. After being burned, the pledges were encouraged to streak across campus and to grovel for cigarettes at a fraternity house. The result was severe enough to send one of the pledges to the hospital with minor burn injuries. The discovery of the incident caused investigations by the sorority and campus to be launched. The members who were involved with the incident were not charged by the state of Indiana with criminal recklessness under the hazing statute, as had been reported. They did, however, face a possible trial for alcohol possession but due to difficulty proving who provided the alcohol, the members were given community service instead. DePauw's reaction to the hazing for the chapter was to put the chapter on social probation until Fall 1999 and cut its pledge class in half for two years. The thirteen members who had either been involved with the incident or had known about it were given one-semester suspensions and social probation for their participation, and were voted by their chapter to retain membership within the chapter.
In 2014, the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at the University of Connecticut was kicked off campus until 2017 for forcing pledges to drink until they passed out, act like animals, and wiggle on the floor like "sizzling bacon."
In 2015, the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at The Ohio State University was suspended for initiation rituals that involved heavy uses of alcohol.
Bruce Ivins, the senior bio-defense researcher at United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), before allegedly being driven to suicide by the allegations that he was the "sole perpetrator of the 2001 anthrax attacks", reportedly had a "long and strange obsession" with Kappa Kappa Gamma, as well as with other sororities such as Chi Omega. Ivins reportedly became obsessed with Kappa when he was rebuffed by a woman in the sorority during his days as a student at the University of Cincinnati. The letters containing anthrax spores (which eventually killed 5 people and injured dozens more) were mailed from a drop box approximately 300 feet from a KKG storage facility at Princeton University, and only 60 feet from the KKG office. Katherine Breckinridge Graham, an advisor to Kappa's Princeton chapter, stated that there was nothing to indicate that any of the sorority members had anything to do with Ivins. Officials claim that the sorority link helps explain why the letters were mailed from Princeton, 200 miles (320 km) from the Fort Detrick lab in Frederick, Maryland, where Ivins worked and where it is claimed the anthrax was produced. A US Government investigative panel, called the Expert Behavioral Analysis Panel, issued a report in March 2011 which detailed more of Ivins' obsession with the sorority. According to the panel's report, Ivins tormented sorority member Nancy Haigwood at the University of North Carolina. Ivins stole her notebook, which documented her research for her doctoral studies, and vandalized her residence.
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