Kappa Alpha Order
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Kappa Alpha Order
Kappa Alpha Order
Kappa Alpha Order coat of arms.png
FoundedDecember 21, 1865; 153 years ago (1865-12-21)
Washington College,
Lexington, Virginia
MottoDieu et les Dames[1]
(God and the Ladies)
Fratres usque ad aram fidelis
(Brothers faithful unto death)
Colors     Crimson
     Old Gold
FlagKappa Alpha Order flag.gif
FlowerCrimson Rose and Magnolia Blossom
PublicationThe Kappa Alpha Journal
PhilanthropyMuscular Dystrophy Association
Chapters122 active[2]
103 alumni[]
Membersapprox. 7,600[] collegiate
approx. 150,000[] lifetime
NicknamesKappa Alpha, KA, The Order
HeadquartersMulberry Hill
Lexington, Virginia
United States

Kappa Alpha Order (KA), commonly known as Kappa Alpha or simply KA, is a social fraternity and a fraternal order founded in 1865 at Washington College in Lexington, Virginia. As of December 2015, the Kappa Alpha Order lists 133 active chapters, five provisional chapters, and 52 suspended chapters.[2] Along with Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu, the order represents a third of the Lexington Triad. Since its establishment in 1865, The Order has initiated more than 150,000 members.[3]


Kappa Alpha Order was founded as Phi Kappa Chi on December 21, 1865, at Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, in Lexington, Virginia. James Ward Wood, William Archibald Walsh, and brothers William Nelson Scott and Stanhope McClelland Scott are the founders of the fraternity.[4] Soon after the founding, the local Virginia Beta chapter of Phi Kappa Psi protested the name "Phi Kappa Chi", due to the similarity of the names, leading Wood to change the name of the fraternity to K.A. by April 1866. Within one year, the order's ritual would be expanded upon by Samuel Zenas Ammen, who was dubbed the "practical founder". In the years that followed, the fraternity spread throughout the Southern United States, as well as other states such as California, Arizona and New Mexico.

KA is one-third of the Lexington Triad, along with Alpha Tau Omega and Sigma Nu.[5] The founders listed Robert E. Lee's chivalry and gentlemanly conduct as an inspiration. At the 1923 Convention, Lee was designated as the "Spiritual Founder" of the Order by John Temple Graves.[6]

Ku Klux Klan founder John Lester claimed that the Klan's initiation ritual was based on a popular collegiate fraternal order. Allen Trelease makes the connection that "Kuklos Adelphon (KA) almost certainly provided the model" for the early Klan. It is likely that this organization inspired the creation of the Kappa Alpha Order, a prominent fraternity in the United States.[7] Kuklos Adelphon dissolved at the end of the Civil War. Immediately following the dissolution of Kuklos Adelphon, Kappa Alpha Order was founded at the end of the American Civil War and became the spiritual successor to Kuklos Adelphon with the same initials to signify their relationship to each other.[8]

According to the fraternity, "The popular old antebellum society, Kuklos Adelphon, founded at the University of North Carolina in 1812, had all but perished during the recent war, but its reputation was well known in the South. Kuklos Adelphon was more than a mere college fraternity. Its "Circles" met in communities long after its members left college campuses. Wood was aware of this and the concept of a lifelong "Circle of Brothers" had great appeal to him."[9]

Administrative office

The Kappa Alpha Order National Administrative Office is located at Mulberry Hill, in Lexington, Virginia. It is documented that Mulberry Hill is where Robert E. Lee spent his first night in Lexington, after arriving to take over as president of Washington College.[10] Mulberry Hill is a Virginia Historic Landmark, and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.[11] The offices for the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation are also housed there.

Member programs

Number I's Leadership Institute

The Number I's Leadership Institute (Number 1 is the title of the chapter president[12]) is an intensive informational and educational retreat for chapter presidents. The retreat is held at a Baptist conference center.[13]

Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation (KAOEF)

Established in 1982, the Kappa Alpha Order Educational Foundation (KAOEF) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The Foundation provides grants for educational programs of the fraternity, such as the National Leadership Institute and Province Councils, and provides scholarships to graduate and undergraduate students. KAOEF funds these programs with donations contributed by KA alumni.[14]


The Kappa Alpha Journal (or KA Journal) is the fraternity's magazine. It has been published since 1879.[15] Members of the Kappa Alpha Order are entitled to a free subscription to The KA Journal if initiated within the last ten years, or are a member of The Loyal Order. Members initiated between 1936 and 1951 are given a lifetime subscription to the publication.[16]

Loyal Order

The Loyal Order is an alumni program for the Kappa Alpha Order. The national office uses the money from Loyal Order memberships to help defray the cost of distributing the KA Journal, as well as other alumni resources.[17]

Military Division

The Military Division of Kappa Alpha Order was established in 2009. Membership is open to Kappa Alphas who are currently serving, honorably discharged, or retired from the United States Armed Forces. The Recognition Pin of the Military Order features the Maltese Cross, utilizing KA's colors crimson and old gold, and has 8 points in the cross, which symbolize the chivalric virtues of loyalty, piety, frankness, bravery, glory and honor, contempt of death, helpfulness towards the poor and sick, and respect for the church.[18]


The colors of The Order are traditionally Crimson and Old Gold. The colors represent the blood sacrificed (crimson red) and the money spent (old gold) in defense of the country.[19] The flowers of the Order are the crimson rose and the magnolia blossom. The crimson rose represents masculine might and the white magnolia blossom represents purity.[12]

The flowers of the order and a ribbon featuring the order's motto adorn the bottom of the crest. The crest itself is representative of several things; the hand holding the axe represents the continuing power of the Knight Commander and of the order. The Helmet was, at one time, a symbol used by the Knight Commander of the Order. The badge is featured at the center of the crest, and the lions on either side represent different things each. The lion on the left, looking away, symbolizes "rampant", meaning magnanimous. The lion on the right, looking towards you, symbolizes "regardent", which means cautious or circumspect.[1]


The Kappa Alpha Order motto is "Dieu et les Dames" (God and the Ladies)[1] and is written on the ceiling of the Mississippi State Capitol.[20] Kappa Alpha Order also utilizes the motto tagline "A Moral Compass for the Modern Gentlemen."

Notable members

Thomas Carmody (Alpha Gamma) - member of Louisiana House of Representatives 2008 - 2020 Caddo & Bossier Parishes

Zac Brown (Zeta Kappa) - Zac Brown Band

George S. Patton Jr. (Beta Commission) - Four-Star General, U.S. Army; Outstanding Combat Officer, WWII

Accusations of racism

Ku Klux Klan founder John Lester claimed that the Klan's initiation ritual was based on a popular collegiate fraternal order.[8] It has been speculated by Allen Trelease that "Kuklos Adelphon almost certainly provided the model" for the early Klan.[7] Kuklos Adelphon dissolved during the American Civil War.

According to the fraternity, "The popular old antebellum society, Kuklos Adelphon, founded at the University of North Carolina in 1812, had all but perished during the recent war, but its reputation was well known in the South. Kuklos Adelphon was more than a mere college fraternity. Its "Circles" met in communities long after its members left college campuses. Wood was aware of this and the concept of a lifelong "Circle of Brothers" had great appeal to him."[9]

Thomas Dixon's dedication to his Kappa Alpha brothers in his book The man in gray : a romance of north and south

The fraternity has been criticized for identification with the Confederacy and other forms of racism. In November 2002, the Zeta Psi and Kappa Alpha Order chapters at the University of Virginia were suspended and subsequently cleared after the fraternities held a Halloween party where a few guests were photographed wearing blackface and dressed up as Uncle Sam and Venus and Serena Williams.[21][22]

In 2009, Kappa Alpha Order at the University of Alabama was criticized for wearing Confederate uniforms for an "Old South" parade that passed by an African-American sorority house celebrating its 35th anniversary. The organization apologized for any offense that might have been caused. Kappa Alpha Order on other campuses, including Auburn, Centenary College, Mississippi State University, and the University of Georgia had already ceased to wear Confederate uniforms in public following complaints from students.[23] The national organization banned the wearing of Confederate uniforms to its "Old South" parades in 2010,[24] although video from 2012 showed the uniforms still being worn.[25]

In April 2016, the fraternity's Tulane University chapter in New Orleans, Louisiana, constructed a sand-bag wall around its house that contained spray-painted slogans in reference to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The chapter said that the wall had been built for an annual "capture the flag" game and that the pro-Trump slogans were satirical and not in support of the candidate or his message. Some students protested that the wall was offensive and anti-immigrant or anti-Latino. The wall was later forcefully dismantled, allegedly in part by members of the Tulane football team.[26]

In 2019, the fraternity suspended three members of its University of Mississippi chapter after they posted a photo on an Instagram account showing them posing with guns next to a bullet-riddled sign memorializing Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American lynched in Mississippi in 1955.[27] The local U.S. Attorney said that the matter had been referred for further investigation to the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.[27] The students withdraw from the university, but they are not charged with a hate crime.[28]

Notable hazing incidents and controversies

In 1980, several students at Vanderbilt University including Graham Matthews, an African-American graduate student in the divinity school, decided to hold Nat Turner Day to protest the fraternity's celebration of Old South Day, when KA brothers dressed as CSA personnel.[29] The university administrators sided with KA, banned Nat Turner Day, and let KA parade in their Confederate costumes.[30] Michael Patton, now a philosophy professor at the University of Montevallo, "put on a cap with antlers"; he was called a homophobic slur and beaten up by the KA chapter.[30]

In 1997, a former pledge at Texas A&M University had to have a testicle surgically removed due to a fraternity member giving him a "super wedgie." This same year a pet goat was shot and killed with a gun in front of pledges at the fraternity's chapter house. One fraternity member was indicted for the incident.[31]

In 2008, the fraternity chapter at Midwestern State University was suspended for three years after a pledge almost died due to alcohol poisoning under the fraternity's supervision.[32]

In 2011, the chapter at Georgetown College was suspended by the national office of the fraternity after several members allegedly shouted racial slurs at a minority student on campus during an event in which members run through campus in their boxer shorts and shout in front of women's dormitories, though no one willing to testify to this incident proved willing to step forward in the subsequent days. The national office also issued a public apology on behalf of the chapter. An African-American student who unsuccessfully demanded that the chapter take down a Confederate flag in the aftermath of the incident was suspended, however, for brandishing a toy gun.[33][34]

In 2011, an investigation was started after a frat member fired a shotgun inside the University of Texas at Austin's chapter house. Following claims by the fraternity that the chapter had hazed pledges, hired adult performers for multiple live sex shows, and broken other fraternity rules, the fraternity suspended the chapter for one year. The chapter refuted the hazing allegation as minor and unsupported by evidence, and broke-ties with the national organization, forming a new fraternity, Texas Omicron. Kappa Alpha Order then sued Texas Omicron, unsuccessfully, for dues and other monies, as well as furnishings from the chapter house.[35][36][37]

In 2013, the fraternity at the University of Virginia was temporarily suspended due to several serious allegations of hazing and misconduct.[38][39]

In 2015, Jonathan Ford, the son of Alabama State Representative Craig Ford and a former football recruit at Birmingham-Southern College, sued the fraternity for hazing and injuries he says he sustained while pledging which resulted in his football career ending prematurely.[40][41]

In 2015 the fraternity chapter at Virginia Wesleyan College was suspended for at least four years by the national organization.[42] An investigation by the school determined that hazing had occurred in violation of school policy, but that it was not criminal.[43][44]

In 2015, the chapter at Emory University was suspended for three years due to violating anti-hazing policies.[45]

In 2016, the chapter at the University of Richmond was suspended after a strongly sexist and offensive email sent by the fraternity was reported to the university.[46]

In 2016, the chapter at the University of Missouri was placed on suspension and investigation after a freshman pledging was hospitalized due to a hazing incident that involved drinking excessive amounts of alcohol with the purported purpose of somehow validating his manhood.[47]

In 2016, the fraternity chapter at the College of Charleston was closed after the chapter president and other members were arrested for being involved in a major off-campus drug ring. The fraternity was also accused of drugging and raping several young women who attended their parties.[48]

In 2017, the fraternity chapter at Southern Methodist University was suspended for four years (until 2021) and members living in the chapter house were forced to evacuate the premises for hazing pledges in the spring. The hazing found, according to the university: "paddling; servitude required of new members; forcing new members to consume alcohol; forcing new members to participate in calisthenics; forcing new members to consume food items such as jalapeños, habaneros, red onions, and milk until vomiting was induced; forcing new members to wear clothing soiled with vomit; sleep deprivation; 'underground membership.'"[49]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Shelton, Todd. "Insignia and Publications". Archived from the original on 2010-09-23. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b "Active Chapters - Kappa Alpha Order". kappaalphaorder.org. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ Lyons, Jesse. "Kappa Alpha Order surpasses 150,000 initiates in its history". Archived from the original on 2010-11-23. Retrieved .
  4. ^ Zeta Zeta Chapter - Wingate University. "The Beginning..." Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Sigma Nu Fraternity. "The Virginia Fraternities & The Lexington Triad". Archived from the original on January 6, 2009. Retrieved .
  6. ^ Kappa Alpha Order. "The mission of Kappa Alpha Order". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  7. ^ a b Trelease p.4
  8. ^ a b Lester, John C., Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment Walter L. Fleming ed. New York; Neale Publishing Company, 1905. p.60
  9. ^ a b Brent E. Buswell & Jesse S. Lyons, eds., The Varlet of Kappa Alpha Order (13th ed.) p. 18, Retrieved 2018-11-13, available at https://www.kappaalphaorder.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/The-Varlet-of-Kappa-Alpha-Order-2018-COMPRESSED_WEB.pdf
  10. ^ Shelton, Todd. "Knight Commander's Message, Fall 2004". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  11. ^ Shelton, Todd. "Mulberry Hill, Part One: History". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  12. ^ a b "The Varlet" (twelfth ed.). Kappa Alpha Order. 2010. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ Rowson, Scott. "2008 Number I's Leadership Institute". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  14. ^ Kappa Alpha Order. "What does the KAOEF do?". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  15. ^ Kappa Alpha Order. "The Kappa Alpha Journal". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  16. ^ Rowson, Scott. "The Kappa Alpha Journal Subscription Policy Explained". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved .
  17. ^ KAO. "The Loyal Order". Retrieved .
  18. ^ https://www.kappaalphaorder.org/alumnus/military-division
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ ALPHA UPSILON Chapter Kappa Alpha Order. "KA Motto in MS State Capitol". Retrieved .
  21. ^ Argetsinger, Amy (December 3, 2002). "University of Virginia Frats Cleared in Blackface Incident". Washington Post. p. A15. Archived from the original on March 13, 2008.
  22. ^ "UVA latest in string of blackface incidents. (Noteworthy News).(University of Virginia fraternities)". Black Issues in Higher Education. 2002-12-19.
  23. ^ "'Old South' frat targeted over Confederate event". Associated Press. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2011.
  24. ^ Wheeler, Linda (23 April 2010). "Southern fraternity banishes Confederate uniforms". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011.
  25. ^ Blake, Eben (2 July 2015). "Confederate Flag On College Campuses: Where Race, White Supremacy And Tradition Collide In The South". International Business Times. Retrieved 2016.
  26. ^ "'Trump Wall' at Kappa Alpha fraternity sets Tulane abuzz". nola.com. Retrieved 2018.
  27. ^ a b Jerry Mitchell, We Found Photos of Ole Miss Students Posing With Guns in Front of a Shot-Up Emmett Till Memorial. Now They Face a Possible Civil Rights Investigation., Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting/ProPublica (July 25, 2019).
  28. ^ White Supremacists Caught at Emmett Till Memorial Making Propaganda Film Jackson Free Press, Nov 2, 2019; retrieved Nov 3, 2019
  29. ^ Shoulders, Carolyn (April 2, 1980). "Black To Lead Protest of Fraternity Dixie Ball". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2018.
  30. ^ a b Suddath, Claire (August 26, 2004). "Where the Freaks Are". Nashville Scene. Retrieved 2018.
  31. ^ Falls, Clay. "Texas A&M Greek Life Investigation Reveals Cases of Hazing, Goat Shot". kbtx.com. Retrieved 2018.
  32. ^ "Kappa Alpha Suspended from Midwestern State". NBC 5 Dallas-Fort-Worth. Associated Press. November 9, 2008. Retrieved 2015.
  33. ^ "Fraternity suspends Georgetown chapter after racial allegations". kentucky.com. Retrieved 2018.
  34. ^ https://keyconversationsradio.com/georgetown-college-president-crouch-addresses-campus-racial-tensions/
  35. ^ "Allegations of sex shows, hazing at Texas frat". Bloomberg Business. Associated Press. September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2015.
  36. ^ Kreytak, Kevin (September 27, 2011). "UT fraternity accused of live sex shows, hazing". The Statesman. Retrieved 2015.
  37. ^ McShane, Larry (October 2, 2011). "University of Texas' Kappa Alpha fraternity sued". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2015.
  38. ^ Progress, K. BURNELL EVANS Charlottesville Daily. "Kappa Alpha chapter at UVa suspended". richmond.com. Retrieved 2018.
  39. ^ "UVA's Kappa Alpha Fraternity Under Investigation". WVIR-TV. NBC. April 26, 2013. Retrieved 2015.
  40. ^ White, Linda (May 29, 2015). "Birmingham-Southern College, Kappa Alpha face hazing lawsuit". WVTM. NBC News. Retrieved 2015.
  41. ^ Faulk, Kent (May 29, 2015). "Son of Alabama House minority leader files lawsuit claims 'hazing' injuries at BSC frat house". Al.com. Retrieved 2015.
  42. ^ "Virginia Wesleyan College suspends fraternity for alleged hazing". 13 News Now. ABC. February 13, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  43. ^ Alvarez-Wertz, Jane (February 13, 2015). "Virginia Wesleyan fraternity suspended amid hazing allegations". WAVY. Retrieved 2015.
  44. ^ "Kappa Alpha: Members of the closed fraternity speak out". marlinchronicle.vwu.edu. Retrieved 2018.
  45. ^ "News Briefs: KA Suspended, New Dining Options and More - The Emory Wheel". emorywheel.com. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 2018.
  46. ^ "Richmond's Kappa Alpha Order chapter suspended after sexist email". thecollegianur.com. Retrieved 2018.
  47. ^ Ransom, Alexander. "UPDATE: Hazing incident results in Kappa Alpha suspension at MU". columbiamissourian.com. Retrieved 2018.
  48. ^ Pardue, Tony Bartelme Doug. "Cocaine, pills ... and textbooks". postandcourier.com. Retrieved 2018.
  49. ^ http://www.smudailycampus.com/news/smu-chapter-of-kappa-alpha-order-suspended-for-4-years

External links

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