Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts HistorySauer, Anne
Sigma Kappa, 1913-1960
Sigma Kappa, Omicron Chapter, was a sorority located on the Medford Campus. In the spring of 1956, the sorority pledged two African-American students into their organization. Following this action, the national Sigma Kappa organization voted to remove Omicron Chapter's charter, "for the good of the Sorority as a whole."Though no formal reason was given, the national organization revoked Cornell University's chapter's membership at the same time, following their decision to pledge an African-American student.
The incident received national attention, provoking debate on racial discrimination in college and university social organizations. Dean Katherine R. Jeffers, Dean of Women for Jackson College, was chosen by Omicron Chapter to represent their interests to the media and the world at large. In this capacity, Dean Jeffers testified before the Massachusetts House of Representatives in their investigation of the matter, and won the commendation of the House for Tufts' decision to fully support the sorority in its decision to open itself to members of other racial and ethnic groups. Dean Jeffers also fielded correspondence from college administrators from around the country voicing opinions for and against Sigma Kappa's decision, steadfastly defending the decision of the students.
Following their expulsion from the national chapter, the Tufts Sigma Kappa sorority reconstituted itself, with all of the same members, as a local sorority called Thalia. Thalia Sorority remained in existence until it was disbanded in 1960.
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