Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev denied Tuesday that she had aggressively hazed pledges while a member of Alpha Phi sorority at Hofstra University. But she conceded she had joked about hazing in an email, leading to her ouster from the campus organization.
Appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America," Kazantsev responded to a report Monday on Jezebel.com, which cited an anonymous source claiming she and another member of Alpha Phi verbally abused pledges and ordered them to perform harsh physical tasks.
Writing on her blog, Kazantsev explained: "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."
The 23-year-old former Miss New York said she had sent an email to alumni in which "I joked that we could make the evening scary for the pledges. . . . 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."
When the email was forwarded to Alpha Phi's headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, Kazantsev was summoned to a judiciary hearing. "At the time, it was the end of the school year," she wrote. "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."
A Hofstra spokeswoman said in a statement to Newsday that the university in Hempstead, "does not comment on or confirm the existence of any specific student conduct proceedings, due to student privacy laws. Our code of community standards is clear, and available online."
She would not comment on Kazantsev's claim Tuesday on "Good Morning America" that hazing was "the culture of the university." The Miss America organization says that Kazantsev was open with them about being terminated from the sorority.
On "GMA," Kazantsev said she was hazed herself as a pledge and that she took part in some hazing activities. She had been in charge of the sorority's recruitment committee.
"Everybody wants to be a part of something," she said. "And at the time, unfortunately, that was just the culture of the university. And I was hazed. And I was kind of brought up through the organization thinking that that's appropriate behavior."
She said the hazing included being forced to stand in line, reciting information and sleepless nights crafting -- "menial tasks," she called them.-- With AP