Brian Stewart, a student at Morgan State University, recently filed a complaint against the school and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc (KAPsi). claiming his application for membership into the organization was refused because he’s gay.
“I didn’t know I was going to have no control,” he told the Baltimore Sun, “…That my interview meant nothing, my achievements meant nothing, because they had already made up their minds.”
While Stewart seemed to be a great candidate for membership into the Alpha Iota chapter of the venerable organization—he has held several leadership positions on campus and even interned for First Lady Michelle Obama—he was not chosen as a member and received a denial letter from the local chapter earlier this month.
Stewart says members of the fraternity hinted that because of his sexual orientation, his membership was highly unlikely.
Stewart soon got wind of a set of messages he claims were about him—how he obtained them, he did not share. It’s what he believes is an online give and take about his membership.
The messages are full of derogatory language, appearing to indicate Stewart would not be admitted. One message says in part, “give him the perception of a fair and equal opportunity.”
While the Kappa Alpha Psi website boasts they are “proud that the Constitution has never contained any clause which either excluded or suggested the exclusion of a man from membership merely because of his color, creed, or national origin,” sexual orientation is not mentioned in the organization’s documents.
Although many have come to Stewart’s defense, including some members of KAPsi, others feel like he should accept the local chapter’s decision not to grant him membership and move on.
Stewart says he wanted to join Kappa Alpha Psi because his pastor, who was also his mentor, was a member. However, after being denied membership allegedly because of his sexual orientation he no longer wants to join the organization. According to Stewart, he filed the complaint against the fraternity to “raise awareness.”
Fraternities and sororities have a history of refusing membership to applicants for a myriad of reasons—GPA, beef with chapter members, lack of community service hours, gender, race, class, etc. Moreover, as private, member-funded organizations, discrimination is technically legal because groups can exclude or include whomever they deem acceptable based on their own criteria.
But should they?