Colors Black Gold
Flower Black and Gold Pansy
Founded 27 January 1870
Color Black Gold
Motto Leading Women
|Publication The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine|
Founders Bettie Tipton Lindsey, Alice Allen Brant, Hannah Fitch Shaw, Bettie Locke Hamilton
Kappa Alpha Theta (ΚΑΘ), also known simply as Theta, is an international sorority founded on Jan. 27, 1870 at DePauw University, formerly Indiana Asbury. Kappa Alpha Theta was the first Greek-letter collegiate sorority. The organization currently has more than 145 chapters at colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Theta's total living initiated membership as of January 23, 2017, totals more than 211,000. There are more than 200 alumnae chapters and circles worldwide. Kappa Alpha Theta is a member of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC).
Kappa Alpha Theta was founded in 1870 to give women a support group in the then mostly male college world at Indiana Asbury, now DePauw University. Indiana Asbury officially opened its doors to women in 1867, thirty years after the college was first established. Four women, Elizabeth McReynolds Locke Hamilton (Bettie Locke), Alice Olive Allen Brant (Alice Allen), Elizabeth Tipton Lindsey (Bettie Tipton), and Hannah Virginia Fitch Shaw (Hannah Fitch), sought to create an organization for women that would provide the encouragement and support to draw women to coeducational colleges.
Kappa Alpha Theta's ritual, organizational structure, badge, and coat of arms were drawn in part upon two fraternities with which Bettie Locke had close connections: Beta Theta Pi, her father's fraternity, and Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI), her brother's fraternity.
Locke had many friends in FIJI, and when the members asked her to wear their badge she asked if it meant she was a member of their fraternity. They informed her, "no" it would be simply as a "mascot" or token of her friendship. Locke declined. She said she could not wear it as she did not know the secrets and purposes the badge represented. The brothers of FIJI took a vote to determine whether to admit and initiate Locke as a full member of FIJI. They decided they wished to remain an all-male fraternity, and gave Locke a silver fruit basket instead as a symbol of their special relationship with her.
At the suggestion of her father, a professor at Indiana Asbury, Locke investigated whether any fraternities for women existed with whom she could establish a chapter at Indiana Asbury. Discovering that only literary societies for women existed at the time, Locke decided to begin her own Greek letter fraternity for women (sorority), and Kappa Alpha Theta was conceived.
Locke and her friend Alice Allen together wrote a constitution, planned ceremonies, designed a badge, and sought other women on campus worthy of membership. Along with Hannah Fitch and Bettie Tipton, they were initiated in secret on Jan. 27, 1870, creating the Alpha Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta.
In 1887, Theta became an international organization with the establishment of the Sigma Chapter at The University of Toronto. This became the first Canadian sorority.
Since its founding, the organization has been associated with a number of firsts:
G. William Domhoff, writing in Who Rules America?, listed Kappa Alpha Theta as one of "the four or five sororities with nationwide prestige" in the mid-1960s.
Kappa Alpha Theta's colors are black and gold. The official symbols are both the kite and twin stars, while the official flower is the black and gold pansy. KAΘ does not have an official stone.
Kappa Alpha Theta has more than 135 active college chapters and more than 180 alumnae chapters across the United States and Canada. Alumnae chapters are alumnae groups that have been granted charters from Grand Council. The following is a list of the chapters of Kappa Alpha Theta:
Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation, founded in 1960, is the philanthropic arm of the organization. Theta Foundation works to award annual undergraduate and graduate scholarships to its members, awarding more than $1.1 million per year. In addition to scholarships, Theta Foundation also supports the sorority's educational programs as well as the its international philanthropy, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). CASA are community volunteers who serve as the voice for abused and neglected children in court. Their purpose is to ensure all legal actions made are in the child's best interest.
The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine
Theta's Grand Convention voted to establish a magazine in 1885 and place its editorship with Kappa Chapter at Kansas. In the intervening years, Kappa Alpha Theta's magazine has undergone a change of title (from The Journal to The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine), and a change of publication schedule (from monthly to quarterly). Today, The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine is published in April, June, September, and December of each year.
In 2000, the chapter at the University of Cincinnati was temporarily suspended for hazing. The pledges were forced to endure several demeaning tasks, one of which included crawling up the steps of a sorority house.
In 2000, the chapter at Rollins College was shut down after a drinking party sent newly pledged members to the hospital. One sorority member passed out and was placed on a respirator that night.
In 2008, the chapter at Colgate University was suspended for four years after an alcohol-hazing related incident.
In 2014, the chapter at Columbia University was under national scrutiny after hosting a racially and ethnically insensitive event that went viral. They went to a male fraternity that threw a "Beer Olympics" party. Some of the costumes worn by sorority members were based on stereotypes meant to represent Mexico, Japan, the Netherlands, Ireland, Jamaica and other countries. The sorority publicly apologized for the event.