Today’s Phrase for Latin Lovers

Rex in Regno suo superiores habet Deum et Legem.

Translation:
The King in his Realm hath two superiors: God and the Law. -- Henry Care (1646-1688) on English liberties and the Magna Carta

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Ancient History

|Feminism Amuk

Miss America Expelled From Sorority

Oops. It turns out that the new Miss America has more resume problems.

KiraScholastic

In a media kit for Kira Kazantsev, the beauty pageant organization lists a variety of her achievements. A special highlight is “Leadership Roles.” It says she was the “Alpha Phi Sorority New Member Educator and Recruitment Committee President.” The only problem is that she was fired from that role and banned from further participation with that sorority in April 2013.

The liberal feminist website Jezebel discovered this when they noted an odd lack of congratulatory statements made by the sorority after Kazantsev’s Miss America win:

…neither the national Alpha Phi organization nor the Hofstra branch of Alpha Phi (Theta Mu) publicly acknowledged that one of their own had just won the most prestigious beauty pageant in the world; nor did the local chapter and national organization recognize Kazantsev’s considerable achievement. The organization’s affiliated foundation was also silent, despite the fact that pictures of Kazantsev participating in Alpha Phi events are all over Facebook.

Jezebel’s investigation found:

After returning from her fall 2012 study abroad semester in Spain, Kazantsev began her term as Alpha Phi’s Recruitment Committee President for the incoming pledges. Kazantsev and her best friend (another Alpha Phi sister who was also her roommate), our source says, were exceptionally harsh toward the pledges. (In the tipster’s words, they made the recruits’ lives “a living hell.”) Under Kira’s supervision, according to the source, pledges in the incoming class were called names, berated for their perceived physical flaws and imperfections, and made to perform physical tasks to the point of bruising and exhaustion—standard sorority pledge stuff paid forward by a person who our source says was herself brutally hazed upon entry into Alpha Phi.

There are a couple points that Jezebel seems to have gotten wrong in their reporting. First, they say Kazantsev did a fall 2012 study abroad semester. But Kazantsev’s old, now deleted blog seems to indicate it was in the early months of 2012 that she was in Spain, not in the late ones. (See the archived screenshot below.)

AsToldByKira1

Second, Jezebel also continues on in the article to describe fantastical scenes of sorority hazing that their informants claim occurred at Hofstra, though not necessarily in the sorority that Kazantsev joined. But the hazing they describe sounds like wild urban legend, with tales of rejecting pledges deemed to be lesbians and then forcing all the remaining pledges to perform oral sex on the sorority members. I mean, come on. That’s just ludicrous, even if Jezebel says they have more than one source for that story. It calls into question the truthfulness of those sources, but it’s hard to determine if they were the ones also giving information about Kazantsev or if they were only speaking about the Greek system at Hofstra during that time.

But Jezebel did get the dismissal from the sorority right. They report:

When someone reported Kazantsev and her friend for “dirty pledging,” Hofstra didn’t turn a blind eye. After a months-long investigation into their actions, our source says, the pair was expelled from Alpha Phi in late 2013 and told they could no longer participate in any sorority activities, including the end-of-year formal. Kira and her bestie attended the formal, anyway, but had to sneak in with their dates.

The Miss America Organization fully admits that Kazantsev was “terminated” from her sorority, but then instead of addressing it, they weirdly try to draw the Wizard of Oz curtain closed by blaming the scandal on the people reporting what the pageant has tried to hide (if they even knew about her expulsion before they crowned her). In a statement that they released to numerous news organizations picking up on the Jezebel scoop, the pageant said:

Kira has been very open and candid 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 Honors College and her commitment to serving her community. Kira is an exceptional ambassador for the MissAmerica Organization, and we are excited to be a part of her journey as a force for good across our nation, promoting education and service and working to empower young women.

The sorority Alpha Phi itself has remained silent, neither confirming the incident nor coming to the defense of Kazantsev. They did cancel their “Yoga on the Quad” event that was scheduled for tomorrow. They did not reply to an inquiry of whether the cancellation was related to the Kazantsev expulsion news, perhaps out of fear the media would swarm the event.

Kazantsev herself has now come out to publicly admit her expulsion from the sisterhood. But she claims she is really the victim here, clumsily attempting to tie the scandal into her anti-domestic violence platform. Using the occasion to launch her new Miss America blog kirakazantsev.com, Kazantsev wrote late last night in a post she titles “The Reality of Miss America“:

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.

So because she was “abused” by “people who I thought were my friends,” she went on to become an abuser. That sounds like a standard claim of abusers. But Kazantsev doesn’t seem so sure that it was ever abuse. She calls it “so-called hazing.”

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 organization. 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.

She blames her expulsion not on hazing, but on a little email joke that some snitch forwarded to the national headquarters:

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 behavior 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 organization. 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.

It’s odd that she claims she was banished only because she didn’t show up for the hearing. (Isn’t that a little arrogant to dismiss such a proceeding? If you were innocent, wouldn’t you want to plead your case? If the sisterhood that you proudly list on your resume as your number one leadership role is even vaguely important to you, wouldn’t you want to fight to stay in and, more importantly, want to clear your name?) So the only lesson she notes that she learned from the incident—and “that will stick with me for life”—is don’t put something in an email that a snitch could use against you. Note she yet again concludes that she is the victim here.

It’s hard to know whose story about the cause of the banishment is true: the Jezebel one or hers. Both contain elements that seem untrue. Kazantsev does herself no favors in the overly prepared canned phrases she uses, nor in her donning the victim mantle.

In an softball “exclusive” interview this morning with ABC (the broadcasters of the Miss America pageant), Kazantsev began her defense with “These allegations are not true. I’m incredibly hurt that someone has said these things. Under the broad definition of hazing, yes, I was involved with some of those activities while I was at Hofstra. I came in as an impressionable freshman. And I was hazed.”

See, she’s just a victim.

In a follow-up to ABC’s interview, the writer of the Jezebel scoop, Erin Gloria Ryan, notes that if Kazantsev was expelled solely due to an email joke she made, it “doesn’t explain why an email she sent would result in both her and her best friend/roommate/fellow Alpha Phi senior getting the heave-ho.”

Ryan then ominously writes:

It should also be noted that in “reporting” on this story, GMA did not reach out to me or anyone at Jezebel for comment or clarification; they just had Kazantsev on to deliver her talking points to a sympathetic anchor on the TV home of Miss America. If ABC had reached out, they would have known that since the story ran, we’ve learned more, and that things are still developing on our end. It would have been a tougher interview. But that’s clearly not what GMA wanted.

Seems like we should all stay tuned.

|The Left

Miss America, LIberal Activist

kira-rochapic

above, Kira Kazantsev, Miss America 2015, and former boss, Democratic activist Chuck Rocha of Solidarity Strategies

On Monday, Steve Ertelt of LifeNews.com reported an interesting fact he found on the LinkedIn page of the newly crowned Miss America.

KiraLinkedIn1

Her most recent job experience (other than performing her duties as Miss New York and competing in the Miss America pageant) was three months as an “education” intern with Planned Parenthood. Her profile says that she presented programs in local schools regarding mutual respect and self-esteem. Is this how the country’s leading abortion provider is insinuating itself into the lives of school children?

KiraLinkedIn2

Since her work for an abortion group has been reported in the conservative blogosphere, someone has quietly deleted the LinkedIn profile. (Don’t worry. I made a copy of it, thinking it was likely to be memory-holed.) It’s easy to understand why the Miss America organization would prefer that Kazantsev’s resume were not publicly available, since her overall job experience is not likely to endear the new Miss America to red-state America.

Take, for instance, her job as a political intern for Solidarity Strategies. In their Twitter bio, they describe themselves as “A 100% minority owned political consulting firm dedicated to progressive politics.” They do a lot of work with unions.

Her resume says that she wrote blog posts for her boss, Chuck Rocha (pictured at top with Kazantsev), for the Center for National Policy. Unfortunately, the Center’s site doesn’t date any of its blog posts, but with a little investigation, it appears that three posts appeared “by” Rocha between June 2012 and Labor Day of that year: A Case Study: Caterpillar vs. Machinists; Investment Over Party Politics; and America’s Labor Day.

KiraLinkedIn3

Her work with the Senate campaign to elect Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) explains the answer she gave during the interview portion of the Miss America pageant. When asked by Lee Meriwether what female Senators should devote their time to, Kazantsev said that rape in the military should be the priority. That’s Gillibrand’s pet issue: she is attempting to strip the military chain of command of the ability to handle sexual assault and sexual harassment cases within the military judicial system. Gillibrand instead wants civilian systems to handle it, even in war zones. It’s an extreme position that even Senator Claire McCaskill has not signed on to, and McCaskill is the leader on establishing quasi-legal systems to allow colleges to handle sexual assault cases internally.

KiraLinkedIn4

Lastly, note Kazantsev’s first internship with Solidarity Strategies, in which she took a role in the recall of Republican Governor Scott Walker. Wisconsin voters rejected those recall efforts, and they might not be so pleased to learn that Miss America was battling against them.

KiraLinkedIn5

While the LinkedIn profile for Kazantsev was just deleted this afternoon, it looks like the Blogspot site that Kazantsev linked in her LinkedIn profile, As Told By Kira (see her customized blog header below), went defunct after a 2012 trip to Europe. It appears the site was deleted sometime in the past year.

AsToldByKira

[also posted at LegalInsurrection.com]

UPDATE:

The Huffington Post obtained a statement from Planned Parenthood‘s vice president of communications Eric Ferrero regarding Kazantsev’s work with them. It turns out that she was prettying up her job description. Ferrero explicitly notes the programs were for sex education. He makes no mention of “mutual respect and self-esteem.”

Miss America Kira Kazantsev interned last year at her local Planned Parenthood affiliate, where she supported staff members who provide sex education in the community and at local schools. Several past Miss Americas have supported Planned Parenthood’s mission, and we’re thrilled and proud that one of our former interns is the new Miss America.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider of sex education. Every year, we provide more than one million people with accurate, nonjudgmental information about relationships, sexuality, and healthy decision-making. An overwhelming majority of the American public supports access to comprehensive sex education in middle and high schools — the type of sex education programming that Planned Parenthood provides and which gives parents tools to have conversations with their families, and helps keep young people safe and healthy.

Now as Miss America, Kazantsev will be visiting schools across the country, speaking to our children. Given what she’s been trained to speak to them about, it’s not an encouraging thought for many parents.