Kira Kazantsev, the newly crowned Miss America this morning appeared on GMA defending herself against allegations that she was kicked out of college for hazing Alpha Phi sorority recruits at Long Island’s Hofstra University. Assertions that she emphatically denied despite a new report questioning the nature of her exodus.
That said Kira Kazantsev ceded the following: ‘Under the broad definition of hazing, I was involved… It was part of the culture at Hofstra at the time.’
The controversy surrounding the 22 year old Miss America comes off the back of her beating out 52 other contestants last week to become Miss America 2015.
Referencing incidents of hazing in which she now stands accused of, Kazantsev told of the instance which led to her ultimate demise, involving an email note where she told sorority sisters would be made to ‘have a scary experience.’
Told the woman on the program: ‘I was asked by an educator to reach out to new students and I made a joke which was taken out of context and sent to the national office,’
‘The joke was that we would make the evening scary for the pledges at an event which never came to fruition.’
Despite’s Kazantsev’s insistence that it was a ‘joke that was miscontrued and taken out of context,’ the sorority sister would last year come to be expelled from the sorority.
Following the allegations, Kira Kazantsev said she hoped to turn the negative experience into a positive (that’s called media spin kids…).
The pageant winner, who stood on a platform of anti-domestic violence (yes the irony…), said she would share the message with her fans and that ‘it’s ok to make mistakes in life.’
Miss Kazantsev, formerly Miss New York, won the national competition with her performance of Pharrell’s song ‘Happy’ choreographed with a cup.
On her resume, Kazantsev lists that she was new member educator and recruitment committee president for the university’s chapter of Alpha Phi, a position she reportedly shared with her best friend in the spring term of 2013.
The surrounding controversy over Kazantsev comes after a source told Jezebel that Miss America and her friend made the pledges’ lives ‘a living hell’ by calling them names, and berating them over physical flaws.
The sorority sisters reportedly made the new members perform certain physical tasks to the point of bruising and exhaustion.
When someone reported the harsh punishments, Kazantsev and her friend were kicked out of the sorority, near the end of her senior year. An assertion that Miss America would unwittingly only corroborate when she sent of a letter to administrators describing the ‘scary evening ahead.’
The pair would be subsequently banned from attending any sorority events, but allegedly sneaked into the society’s end-of-year formal with their dates anyway.
When a Jezebel reporter called up the university to ask about a ‘high-profile individual who was expelled from her sorority in late April 2013′, a representative said ‘Was this person, by chance, in Atlantic City last Sunday night?’
However, that representative wasn’t allowed to say more on the disciplinary matter, per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
The Miss America organization has since issued a statement on the hazing allegations, telling Kira has been ‘fully transparent’ about her termination from Alpha Phi.
Told the statement: ‘It’s unfortunate that this incident has been exploited to create a story line 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 Miss America 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.’
Kazantsev graduated from the Long Island university in 2013 with honors and three degrees in Political Science, Geography and Global Studies.
The daughter of Russian immigrants, Kazantsev is fluent in English, Spanish and Russian.
She was the third-consecutive Miss New York to be crowned Miss America, and has strenuously defended her internship at Planned Parenthood in the face of recent attacks against her.
‘It was close to my university and I care about women’s health.
‘It’s really important that teens know what resources are available to them and learn to be respectful of their bodies and other peoples’ bodies,’ she told Cosmopolitan.
In light of Kazantsev’s disclosure that she came to be banned from the sorority house (which interestingly declined to share or publicize their former member’s winning title) commentators on the web have since wondered why the Miss America pageant failed to act on the indiscretions (given its tough stance on other issues, including topless modeling, pregnancy) and whether they in fact were fully aware of the extent of said indiscretions, jokes aside ….?