Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

Courtesy of the Tulane Jambalaya and the Tulane Hullabaloo

Expelled fraternities continue to operate “underground”

November 30, 2017

*The Hullabaloo has granted anonymity to some sources in this article to prevent any potential harm. These subjects have been given pseudonyms to protect their identities.

Junior Maggie Kobelski does not typically attend fraternity parties, but the night of Saturday, Nov. 18 was different. Her friends invited her out, and she just wanted to have a good time.

When she entered the home where the party was being hosted, formerly associated with Tulane’s recently closed Kappa Sigma Fraternity chapter, Kobelski was hit with a wave of shock and dismay.

Many party-goers, a majority of them white, donned feathers and face paint meant to imitate Native American tradition. Some painted their entire faces red and were dressed head-to-toe in light brown, suede fringe.

As an on-campus activist and member of Students Organizing Against Racism, Kobelski recognized the theme as something beyond paint and costumes.  

“Dranksgiving,” an annual party held by Kappa Sigma at Tulane to celebrate Thanksgiving, encouraged guests to dress as Native Americans or Pilgrims. Some students, such as Kobelski, have taken issue with the tradition in the past, calling it an act of cultural appropriation and racism.

Invitations for the annual Dranksgiving party were sent out via GroupMe.

This year’s “Dranksgiving,” however, was different. The fraternity was kicked off campus this semester and therefore is no longer obligated to follow Tulane or Interfraternity Council regulations. Kappa Sigma’s expulsion came after a series of conduct infractions. In August, Kappa Sigma nationals paid for an advertisement in The Hullabaloo “to provide notice that any groups of students representing themselves as the Kappa Sigma Fraternity have no authority to operate a fraternity or fraternity chapter under the name ‘Kappa Sigma’ at Tulane University, or elsewhere in the New Orleans community.”

Kappa Sigma joined a list of expelled fraternities that includes Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) and Sigma Alpha Mu (Sammy).

Once expelled, these groups are no longer recognized by the university and are not allowed to participate in university activities or utilize services or facilities.

Throughout Tulane’s history of Greek life, certain fraternities have been banned from campus for incidents involving racism, hazing, violence, illegal activity and sexual assault. Once these organizations are kicked off campus, however, the responsibility of monitoring no longer falls on the university.

According to the Tulane Interfraternity Council website, “Unrecognized fraternities are not held to the University or Interfraternity Council standards that govern their behavior. They operate without the oversight, training and education provided by staff in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Programs.”

Without the supervision of the university, parties like “Dranksgiving” remain unseen and unregulated by university officials.

Emily Fornof | Staff Artist

“We have no control over the themes of parties hosted by students who are former members of an organization that is no longer recognized by the university,” Liz Schafer, director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs, said.

Severing Ties

For some members of these expelled organizations, like former Sammy member Dylan*, expulsion can signify the end of university surveillance for the fraternity and bring more freedom for members to act as they please.

“Tulane didn’t really do anything about us,” Dylan said. “If they knew we were operating they didn’t do anything to stop us.”

Senior member of Kappa Sigma Kyle* described the minimal contact Tulane had with the organization this semester.

“I know Liz Schafer, the head of the IFC, tried to have a meeting with us, and nobody showed up,” Kyle said. “I don’t know why would anyone show up, it doesn’t really make sense, we’re not a fraternity anymore. There’s no incentive for us to show up, and there’s certainly costs.”

While organizations not affiliated with the university are not subject to Tulane regulation, when students continue to participate in fraternities removed from campus they can individually face penalties from the university through student conduct.

“Individuals who are responsible for operating a non-recognized organization or carrying out the traditions or activities of a suspended or terminated fraternity are violations of the Code of Student Conduct and are subject to disciplinary action by the university,” Director of Risk Management Diane Surla said.

Kappa Sigma’s Recent Closure and “Dranksgiving” Party 

Kappa Sigma was placed on probation in spring of 2016, which barred the fraternity from hosting events with alcohol. After other alcohol-related infractions were incurred during the probationary period, the Supreme Executive Committee of Kappa Sigma Fraternity decided on July 14, 2017, to close the chapter for three years.

The group is not able to induct any new members, hold rush or do any activity under the name ‘Kappa Sigma,’ but they still hold informal chapter meetings and parties.

Party invitations for the annual “Dranksgiving” were sent out with the hashtag “#ThankfulforSigma,” and attendees were told to dress as “Native Americans” and “Immigrants.”

Kyle does not consider the party theme to be offensive. He said he believes students are being hyper-sensitive and that the theme was meant to be fun and lighthearted.

It’s a theme like any other party … This is just a clever name with a good theme because it’s Thanksgiving …” Kyle said. “What are you going to dress up as, a pilgrim or a turkey? No, it’s just not really that fun.”

Dennis Zotigh, cultural specialist at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, deems non-Native Americans wearing face paint and headdresses as a form of cultural appropriation.

“Both feathers and face paint have purpose and often spiritual significance depending on tribal protocol and individual interpretation …,” Zotigh said in an MTV article from 2014. “Individuals [outside of the community] who wear feathers or face paint were not given the rights or permissions to wear them.”

Senior and SOAR historian Amber Thorpe said they believe this cultural insensitivity is magnified in the face of an extremely violent past involving the colonization of the United States. Thorpe, who is a descendent of the Seneca Nation, said they felt personally wounded by the theme.

“… [Colonization] resulted in so much trauma, destruction, genocide, murder, assimilation attempts,” Thorpe said. “That’s already bad enough, and then for people like Kappa Sigma to openly wear red face and think of it as a joke is just unbelievably hurtful … it just further adds to the effects of genocide and colonization …”

A History of Banned Fraternities 

Kappa Sigma is not the first expelled fraternity to be seen as facilitating racial insensitivity and other instances of misconduct. One of the most publicized examples of this was DKE, whose charter was revoked in 1984 after hazing allegations and reports of pledges having cords tied to their genitals and being ordered to have sex with a goat.

Three years after getting its charter revoked, DKE paraded down McAlister Drive in blackface while carrying lit flambeaux. This was an annual tradition called the Debutramp Ball, meant to mock and offend black people, according to pictures found in the 1987 Jambalaya yearbook. According to witnesses, a particular DKE member also approached a black student with a lit flambeau, allegedly in a manner that suggested he would set fire to the student. 

Following these incidents, the administration made a statement about how racism would not be tolerated but ultimately did not take any action to punish the fraternity. The administration explained that it could not identify the fraternity brothers because of their black greasepaint, though the Jambalaya was able to identify each member in published photographs.

In 2008, Tulane suspended PIKE after the New Orleans Police Department charged and arrested ten members for hazing. Members poured flour, vinegar, cayenne pepper, crab boil and extremely hot water on pledges, including on their genitals. Two pledges were hospitalized.

In 2013, Kappa Sigma was suspended because two of its members were the subject of a $10,000 drug raid at the fraternity’s house. And in 2016, AEPi’s junior and senior members were placed in bad standing for hazing. According to IFC, “there are members no longer affiliated with Alpha Epsilon Pi still operating as a separate underground organization … ‘” The frat recolonized last year, with new members and members of the most recent class, and is now nationally recognized.

Student Reactions

According to Kobelski, this lack of university accountability for supervising banned fraternities opens the door for worse activities.

“If you’re banned by an institution, the institution itself and even the organization that you’re part of should be in control of making sure that you’re unable to have parties like this and continue doing what you were doing before,” Kobelski said.

Sophie Fraser, Undergraduate Student Government Multicultural Council chair, said she thinks the university’s failure to follow through with expelled fraternities sends a clear message to the student body and members of banned organizations about accountability.

“I feel like by Tulane just disassociating themselves with fraternities it makes it easier for them because if something bad happens and they end up in the news, then it won’t be Tulane’s name associated with it,” Fraser said. “It will just be, ‘oh, well we kicked them off, so it doesn’t matter what they did to us.'”

After multiple attempts to contact the Office of Student Conduct, The Hullabaloo was directed to Erica Woodley, assistant vice president for student resources and support services, but was not able to contact her until late in the day of the deadline. The Hullabaloo will update the online version of this article as we learn more.

The Hullabaloo also made attempts to contact Tulane’s DKE alumni association, Sammy’s national chapter, PIKE’s national chapter and AEPi’s national chapter, all of which did not respond by the time of this article’s publication.

Fiona Grathwohl contributed to the reporting of this article.

The print version of this article and a previous online version incorrectly stated that Tulane’s AEPi chapter was expelled in 2016. The chapter was placed in bad standing, but is now nationally recognized.  The Hullabaloo regrets this error.

A previous version of this article also included the address of a party mentioned in the article. The Hullabaloo has since removed this address from the article, and regrets the initial inclusion. 

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Comments (34)

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  • LiddySep 23, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Well I can speak personally to the rapes. I was one of their victims, and they would find me and throw me into a station wagon. I would be come home from school, high school, my junior year. My mother could not help my fathers hands were tied he worked with one of the boys fathers. I was told to lay there, let them.

  • KevinDec 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    In this country people will always do things others disagree with. The beautiful thing is that no one can make you do something or go somewhere if you don’t want to. If you think your going to be offended by pilgrim and native America costumes then I️ would suggest not going to a pilgrim and Native American costum party.

  • Specific targetingDec 5, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Heres as close to an impartial reason why this is a faulted article.
    1. ‘Dranksgiving’ is not an annual native american themed party, the past ones, except this one, were all flannel themed
    2. As a female, I attended and not that it is still not appropriation but drawing neon lines on ones face maybe with the inclusion of a feather is WAY different from DKE’s black face in the 1980s, if you can’t see that comparing those two is beyond inappropriate then you need cultural sensitivity training.
    3. In an article about appropriation and hurt races you failed to mention KA’s past of dressing in confederacy uniforms or having their formal on a plantation???? is that a joke.
    4. you state the article is about of campus fraternitieS yet you really only talk about Kappa sig…. I’m sensing a bias.
    5. Ive seen sample of every fraternity on this campus and not one represents as many minorities as Kappa Sig African Amercican, Hispanics, Native Americans, Asian Americans and really you are going to use the race card on a group that unfortunately decided to themed this party the way they did once.
    6. On the topic of sexual assault, I have personally seen vat being made and never have i seen anything drug related into it, besides if that can of worms wants to be opened anyone who attends greek events knows there is more to fear from one and maybe a few others that are still on campus yet their amount of donating alumni prevent their removal.
    7. I for one would love an article about occurrence in greek organizations (on campus or off) but there will never be an impartial one because there is either sides that are two biased or people and reporters that fails to over look their disapproval of the greek system to give credit where credit is due and mention the supportive or innocent aspects of some of the fraternities on this campus. Not every frat has a rape, drug, cultural insensitive, neanderthal mentality and if you could open your prejudices you would write an article that does not single out Kappa Sig, who is you were to blame anything on Cultural Insensitivity is least well founded, and instead discuss the actions of all the fraternities so that as a piece of journalism you can atlas reach some level of subjectivity
    Thank you and again this is neither a pro or anti fraternity post but rather one that would actually like to see through arguments

    • Specific targetingDec 5, 2017 at 1:28 pm


      8. It was not a Kappa Sig party because news flash they is no kappa sig at tulane rn unless you want to produce a giant KS banner then what you have is at most an off campus party

  • Mike FittsDec 3, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    you are the worst, drop out of tulane

  • BoofertonDec 2, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Yall don’t get invited to a lot of parties, do you

  • Matt johnsonDec 2, 2017 at 2:25 am

    While I agree that off campus fraternities can be dangerous, I think a lot more research has to be done before an article like this. Writing this without a full informed idea of what the article is about really discredits what this is supposed to display. I hope you continue writing, as this is well written, but perhaps published too quickly.

    Also, clearly, review journalistic integrity rules before posting (noted this is likely the fault of the editor), as using addresses is, for an article of this nature, often illegal and dangerous to the residents.

  • StacyDec 1, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    This article is amazing. I am so happy that the real truth is finally being printed with the Hullaballoo. So happy with the work that you guys are doing. this is what good journalism looks like. printing stories that are relevant

    • You're wrongDec 2, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      This is far from the “real truth.” It’s actually a very poorly written article with little base in reality serving to bad mouth all fraternities. If you think that this is what good journalism looks like you are what’s wrong with this country.

    • PaulDec 3, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      Hope Stacy was being sarcastic

  • MaddyDec 1, 2017 at 11:02 am

    Fantastic article. Thank you for sharing this important history.

  • DisappointedNov 30, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Tying off campus fraternities to rule following, respectful, on campus fraternities is unfair. This article was used to badmouth fraternities in general instead of being an actual expose of off campus mischief. If this is what you consider honest journalism you are worse than the fraternities you try (and fail) to paint as evil. I don’t know how you can look at yourself after you publish this unbalanced garbage.

  • A FriendNov 30, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    This took guts to write, edit, and publish. Thank you.

    • howDec 1, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      On what planet did writing this take guts…? Because they may get criticism? lol maybe write a better article with true information and it wouldn’t take “guts”

  • Mike FittsNov 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    Someone didn’t get a bid…

  • CBNov 30, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    If no one responded on time, why did you publish an article that was your opinion? Why do you have three people writing this article and why didn’t any of them see issues with it being published? You have to think past the headline kids. What indigenous person did you interview? You didn’t and took your opinions and those around you as fact. Why did one of the writers interview someone they are publically close with? Conflict of interest doesn’t apply to The Hull anymore I guess. The Hullabaloo was excellent and actual publish news instead of hearsay in the past. As a professional journalist and Tulane alum, this is disgraceful. Publications like this fuel the Trump craze that got him elected.

    If you want to be a liberal Breitbart, at least present yourself as that instead of news.

  • JackNov 30, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    You are endangering students by posting their personal information and locations/times of private parties. Did you stop to think you may be setting students up to be targets of crime by doing this?

    Furthermore, do you have any evidence at all that this party was associated with Kappa Sigma? Besides a nameless, unverified “groupme invitation”.

    If I was one of the students victim to this article, I would sue for defamation today. If you are a victim of this article, you SHOULD talk to a lawyer NOW. Josh, Emily, and Canela – you have posted a, supposedly verified, article naming specific students, shared their private addresses, and accused them of being both racists and criminals with absolutely no credible evidence.

  • JackNov 30, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    I’ve reported this article to the local authorities.

    Not only is this premise absurd (comparing a pun on words name for a thanksgiving-time party to a frat in 90s wearing blackface and walking down McAllister?) but it is downright disrespectful and dangerous to share addresses and other personal information of young students and private citizens.

    • DrumpfDec 5, 2017 at 3:42 am

      All you guys call the writer’s of this article “triggered”, and other slurs against liberals. Yet you are so “triggered” by a University Newspaper Article that you contacted the fucking local authorities? Grow up. Clearly you peaked in life when you got a bid freshman year….

  • BuddhaNov 30, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Horribly written article with poor uncorroborated sources who clearly have no connection to the fraternities at hand. Stop trying to politicize a school newspaper to take down Greek Life. Stop being upset you didn’t get a bid, and while the Hullabaloo still has any semblance of respect on this campus, take this article down. All this article serves to do is tear down fraternity chapters that are already kicked off campus, and use their wrongs to try and hurt existing fraternities by listing past minor offenses despite no connection to the expelled fraternities. TAKE THIS DOWN!

  • Donald TrumpNov 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Who ever wrote this article is the biggest joke and should step down immediately.

  • FAKE NEWSNov 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    This article was not only poorly written but also very misinformed. There were no facts stated whatsoever, only assumptions. The writers of this article need to source where all of this information came from because anyone can say the things said in this article but it wouldn’t be a fact. Terrible article. Fake News. Get fired.

  • woahNov 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    You are upset about a private event where members of a frat dressed up as native americans. That is hilariously sad. This is biggest joke of a publication. It is not your job to be offended on behalf of native Americans.

    Get a fucking life you pussy.

  • rudolph the rednose reindeerNov 30, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    The Man Who Invented Christmas may as well be one of those holiday Hallmark originals for all of the dopey, saccharine spins it puts on Charles Dickens coming up with “A Christmas Carol” and the overall quality of life in 1843, but luckily director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day) was working from a screenplay by writer/actor Susan Coyne (Mozart in the Jungle) as adapted from Les Standiford’s 2008 novel of the same name where distinctive features of those Hallmark originals (or hallmarks of those hallmarks) come to be non-existent. There is no gushing love story at the center of it, no excessive amount of perfectly pressed pants or flannel (or whatever the equivalent was in 19th century London), but rather there is this overriding feeling that came to pass throughout the entirety of the experience that was one of lovable cheese. The usual suspects of certain clichés and plot points might not all be present, but that feeling of the overwhelming power of pure holiday love and all that it can conquer, is. And while this may just be due to the fact I’m a sucker for the Hallmark channels block of holiday programming to the point I draw every holiday-themed movie back to these standards The Man Who Invented Christmas is so family friendly and earnest in its intent that it’s hard to discern between what the movie wants you to feel and what this material should make you feel. As another in a line of “story behind the story” films that have, for one reason or another, decided to catch on some thirteen years after Finding Neverland made it a hot idea to studio execs The Man Who Invented Christmas is perfectly serviceable in delivering all of the broad moments required by an audience that craves what they already know; the name Marley coming from a waiter at a restaurant where Dickens was eating for instance coupled with the tidbit that he “collected names” for his works from his everyday life. Things one could have just as easily assumed without having concrete proof of them, but this is the kind of depth and insight The Man Who Invented Christmas offers: facts that might not have been necessarily well-known, but ones that are rather obvious in that they aren’t surprising and offer little to no real drama that would justify this story about Dickens writing his career-defining novel being a story in its own right

  • AnonymousNov 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    This is fake liberal media. what a joke. Sad!

  • ACNov 30, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Getting offended by other people “appropriating” a culture that IS NOT EVEN YOURS is pathetic. Y’all will do anything to put yourself victimized position which you seem to love doing for whatever reason. This fraternity is unaffiliated with Tulane, and writing an article about it is an absolute waste of time. If somebody wants to wear a few feathers on their head, they have the right to do so– just like y’all have the right to get triggered by this party and write a whiny and poorly backed up article about it.

    Also, saying Thanksgiving is a traumatic holiday actually made me laugh out loud. What part of thanksgiving does any family celebrate for reason of genocide of the Native Americans? It’s about family! I can also assure you that nobody at this party was in “red face.” Whoever edited this should lose their job for publishing lies.

  • The TruthNov 30, 2017 at 11:59 am

    There are many “facts” stated here with no truth to back it up. Siting hazing, sexual violence, and other crimes for ex members of fraternities is simply false and there are no statistics to support that statement. This entire article has a mist of mistrust and incorrect information. Certainly a shot to the integrity of this media outlet.

    • BobDec 1, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      It’s called the Climate survey. Look it up.

      • Specific targetingDec 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm

        actually the full results were never released hmmm wonder why maybe its because assault is a campus issue not specific to just one particularly social group and deflecting only means you are part of the problem

    • SamDec 3, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      I personally know four people who have been sexually assaulted by fraternity members. Also, if you need some facts:

      “Fraternity members are three times more likely to rape, according to a 2007 study, which notes that fraternity culture reinforces “within group attitudes” that perpetuate sexual coercion”(25).

      Carone, A. (2016). Fraternities Are Significantly Responsible for the Campus Sexual
      Assault Problem. In Sexual Assault On Campus (pp. 20-29). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.

      • Specific targetingDec 5, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        There is no objection that rape occurs at fraternities but i personally know at least over 10 people, myself included, who have been raped by know Greek affiliated students. In greek life at least you know either other women or men present at the party to hopefully help you get away or help you report. The statistics actually show no high rates for fraternities and if you want to be technical college athletes were the highest reported inflicters of sexual assault, no point in citing it google it and you’ll get too many options. Also there are no real statistics on assault unfortunately because the lack of people who report it or the statistics released by schools as most do not since it is negative PR.

  • John snowNov 30, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Using addresses, taking quotes that were clearly stated as off the record, writing almost exclusively out of pure opinion. This is a sad excuse for an exposé article with little to no attempt to understand the sphere of what the article is supposed to be about. If the hullabaloo has any sort of journalistic integrity, this will be taken down.

    • Completely ShockedNov 30, 2017 at 2:48 pm


  • former sammyNov 30, 2017 at 11:28 am

    Sammy was kicked off campus and suspended all activities and recruitment in 2012. Whoever is still representing themselves as a sammy, “Dylan,” is not and never has been affiliated with the organization in any way, shape or form.