Pi Kappa Alpha (ΠΚΑ) or Pike is a college fraternity founded at the University of Virginia in 1868. The fraternity has over 225 chapters and colonies across the United States and Canada with over 15,500 undergraduate members and 280,000 lifetime initiates. Originally a white-only southern organization, the fraternity became a national fraternity in 1909, and removed its racial restrictions in 1964.
Pi Kappa Alpha was founded on March 1, 1868, at 47 West Range (The Range) at the University of Virginia by six graduate students: Robertson Howard, Julian Edward Wood, James Benjamin Sclater Jr., Frederick Southgate Taylor, Littleton Waller Tazewell Bradford and William Alexander. On March 1, 1869, exactly one year after the Alpha Chapter at the University of Virginia was formed, the Beta Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was founded at Davidson College. Theta Chapter, at Rhodes College, took over the responsibilities of Alpha chapter when the Fraternity was in decline in its infancy. John Shaw Foster, a junior founder from Theta Chapter, helped to reestablish Alpha Chapter at the University of Virginia. Theta Chapter is the longest continual running chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, having been founded in 1878. After almost a decade of decline, Pi Kappa Alpha was "re-founded" as part of the Hampden–Sydney Convention, held in a dorm room at Hampden–Sydney College. The four delegates to the Hampden–Sydney Convention are referred to as the Junior Founders. Pi Kappa Alpha was not originally organized as a sectional fraternity, however by constitutional provision it became so in 1889. It remained a southern fraternity until the New Orleans Convention in 1909 when Pi Kappa Alpha officially declared itself a national organization.
Like many other Social Fraternities at the time, Pi Kappa Alpha's membership limited its membership to white men. The race restriction was removed in 1964.
Shield & Diamond is the official quarterly publication of Pi Kappa Alpha. It was first printed in December 1890 by Robert Adger Smythe, the then Grand Secretary and Treasurer, under the name The Pi Kappa Alpha Journal. The name was changed to Shield & Diamond in 1891.
Pike University is the name used for all of the fraternity's leadership programs. The program is administered by the fraternity's professional staff. Founded in 1948 as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization for charitable, literary & educational purposes. Events held by the university include International Convention, the Academy, the Chapter Executives Conference, and several regional Leadership Summits. Pike University grants more than $100,000 in scholarships each year.
In 1948, Pi Kappa Alpha established and chartered the "Pi Kappa Alpha Memorial Foundation" as a 501(c)(3) organization. The foundation grants $350,000 in scholarships and grants to undergraduate members each year. It also provides funding to the fraternity and its chapters for leadership programs, scholarships, and chapter house facilities. The foundation grants initiation fee scholarships to undergraduates inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, Order of Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, and Tau Beta Pi honoraries. The Pike Foundation also maintains and operates the Memorial Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. This facility houses professional staffs, the Harvey T. Newell Library, and the Freeman Hart Museum. The building is a war memorial built in 1988 to recognize the military services of members who died in the line of duty. A Gold Star Memorial was dedicated on August 1, 2008.
In 2017, a Harris County Grand Jury indicted the University of Houston chapter for extreme hazing. Their pledges were severely deprived from adequate water, food, and sleep, and one was body slammed resulting in a lacerated spleen. The chapter was placed under suspension until 2023 and given a $10,000 fine.
In May 2017, the chapter at California State University, Chico was charged with illegally cutting down 32 trees in the Lassen National Forest during an initiation of new pledges. They were also charged with possession of a firearm and conspiracy to commit offense or defraud the United States. The chapter was placed on suspension pending the outcome of the federal investigation. In October 2017, the chapter was sentenced to 9,800 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine after pleading guilty to cutting down and damaging trees in the Lassen National Forest by the U.S. District Court.
In November 2016, the chapter at Louisiana State University was placed on voluntary suspension after a woman reported to authorities she was a victim of sexual battery by an unidentified white man in the backyard of the fraternity house during a "PIKE's Peak" party.
In March 2015, the chapter at the University of South Carolina was suspended after a Pike member was found dead in a private home near campus that had beer kegs and St. Patrick Day decorations on the porch. The Richland County Coroner's Office called it a "suspicious death".
In 2015, one member and four pledges of Pi Kappa Alpha from the University of Mississippi were arrested and charged with assault for leaving a Sigma Pi fraternity member with a concussion, broken ear drum, and broken teeth after a violent beating. The Pi Kappa Alpha member and pledges were trying to steal a donkey statue from the Sigma Pi house as part of a fraternity initiation task before the fight. The students involved were dismissed/expelled from the fraternity.
In 2015, the former fraternity chapter president at Utah State University was charged with forcible sexual abuse, a felony, after allegedly inappropriately touching a female fellow student passed out at a party.
In April 2014, the fraternity lost its charter at the University of Virginia due to hazing pledges, however the school and the national fraternity agreed to let the chapter return for fall 2014 under an agreement that moved most Juniors and Seniors to early Alumni status and appointed a board of local fraternity alumni to oversee the group.
In 2012, Pi Kappa Alpha pledge David Bogenberger died of a cardiac arrhythmia triggered by alcohol poisoning. According to police, Bogenberger and other pledges at an unsanctioned Northern Illinois University event were pressured into drinking large quantities of alcohol in a two-hour time. Bogenberger and 18 other pledges drank to unconsciousness. Five fraternity officers and 17 other members were convicted of misdemeanors in one of the largest hazing prosecutions in U.S. history. The chapter was suspended by the fraternity.
In 2010, the chapter at Cornell University was placed on suspension for four years “due to its history of alcohol and hazing-related infractions over several years, which culminated in a Jan. 22, 2010, incident involving underage and high-risk drinking,” according to the Cornell Chronicle. The chapter was suspended again in March 2017 for violating university rules.
The UNC-Charlotte chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha was suspended after student placed in IC for alcohol-related hazing in 2013. In 2014 a county judge dismissed charges against three members, and found the fourth not guilty. The university found the fraternity guilty of hazing, and suspended its charter for eight years.
Florida International University suspended the fraternity in 2013 after the discovery of photos on Facebook of hazing and drug deals, as well as sexually explicit photos of women taken without their consent.
In 2008, 10 Pike members were arrested at Tulane University for pouring boiling hot water on pledges. The chapter was also accused of drugging and sexually assaulting several female students at the fraternity's annual bacchanal.
In 2002, Albert Santos, a pledge at the University of Nevada at Reno, drowned in a lake participating in a hazing ritual. He and several pledges were told to swim in a lake in their underwear but Santos could not swim. The fraternity was banned from the campus after his death. Santos' family sued the university and fraternity for negligence.
In 1988, four Pi Kappa Alpha members at Florida State University were arrested for gang-raping a freshman female student. The victim was thrown in a garbage dumpster. The case made national headlines for weeks. The fraternity members pleaded no contest or guilty to lesser charges, and the fraternity was banned from the school for twelve years following the rape. Pi Kappa Alpha was allowed to return to the school in 2000 despite strong protests.
In 1976, Samuel Mark Click, a pledge at Texas Tech University, was killed participating in a scavenger hunt as part of a hazing event. He was trying to collect a letter that was under a railroad tie when he was hit by a train.