Gallery Photo Description: Three pages (white background, black font) of Kappa Gamma’s full open letter that was sent to President Cordano on June 22, 2020. The first page has the official Kappa Gamma logo as a large header at the top, followed by the address, the salutation, and the letter body. The second page continues with the letter body, and the final page outlines the demands with signatures from the current President and Vice President of the Kappa Gamma Fraternity. The Gallaudet University’s Board of Trustees are cc’d on Kappa Gamma’s letter, as shown at the end of the third page. Below this paragraph is the full plain text version of the letter, for your accessibility. At this time, it is unknown whether President Cordano has responded to the letter. Do you want to check out the results of our investigation on the Kappa Gamma fraternity? Click on this link to read!
June 22, 2020
To: Gallaudet President Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano
800 Florida Ave NE
Washington, DC 20002
Dear President Cordano,
The Kappa Gamma Fraternity, as a student organization at Gallaudet University, and Kappa Gamma International, as its alumni organization representing members from all the world, want to again emphasize that we recognize the profound systemic racism that still exist in our world and community, especially at Gallaudet University. As an organization full of men from all the world we FULLY condemn and reject any form of racism, white supremacy, and Nazism!
As an organization that stresses leadership and good character of our members, we are heartbroken that the recent recirculation of images taken more than 30 years have hurt our community and understand the expectations for us to serve our community as leaders, colleagues, friends, and family are real. We strive to consistently be agents of positive change which our more recent active student administrations have worked towards through being proactive about owning up to our mistakes, past and present, and to be even more inclusive.
The email and video distributed to the community by Gallaudet University President Roberta Cordano on June 9, 2020, which erroneously accused our organization as “the face of systemic racism in the community,” produced shockwaves throughout the deaf community and put our current active student members, Gallaudet was sworn to serve and protect, in harm’s way. This was a disingenuous tactic to throw the students under the bus so the university can attempt to save face by avoiding the full responsibility of having cultivated and fostered an environment filled with systemic racism. This divisive action also had a huge ripple effect on our alumni members as they and their families have received death threats, lost their jobs, and faced the full wrath of the deaf community.
This selfish act also needlessly exposed our current students to outsiders and the media who quickly ran with this storyline and published it. This endangers our students, community, and the university even further. This irresponsible reaction by the university was triggered by a photocopy heavily scrutinized internally which offers us plenty of optimism for better relationships to be built between us and all stakeholders of our community. Our organization was suspended between 1993-1997 for violating the university policy and failing to live up to expectations we expect to uphold. The current active student members should not be subjected to a punishment already served.
Unfortunately, the follow-up announcement by President Cordano on June 15th also showed little accountability for their failure to act on repeated grievances for students, faculty, and staff of color.
Now we have seen more organizations, more notably the Black Student Union and National Black Deaf Advocates voice their anger towards the University over their irresponsible actions. While we appreciate that people and organizations want to hold the University responsible for their mistakes and lack of action towards students of color on campus, Kappa Gamma International cannot simply rest and assume the situation will be solved on their own. We have been part of the problem as members of the community and we are committed to better serve our members and our community in eradicating racism and other forms of hate in our community. We have always been proud of our record as an organization that has welcomed and sought out diversity in our ranks but we know it still is not enough. We always can do better and become more engaged in our work to ensure our community is filled with equitable stakeholders of all races, cultures, and religions.
We, the Brothers of Kappa Gamma, stand with our Black brothers and sisters. We are owning up to our previous transgressions as we continue to strive to be better friends and partners to our community. We are welcoming open and transparent dialogues which will allow for wounds to be mended and hopefully you’re forgiveness.
We, the Brothers of Kappa Gamma, have demands for real change in the best interest of every thread of the Gallaudet fabric. Here are the demands:
- Gallaudet President Cordano to make a public apology for shifting the focus away from the systemic racism on the campus by defaming [the] Kappa Gamma Fraternity. This public apology is to be delivered in both ASL and written English.
- Office of Student Conduct to determine achievable consequences for the Kappa Gamma Fraternity as soon as possible and to unsuspend Kappa Gamma Fraternity by the beginning of Spring Semester 2021 considering unspecified, achievable consequences to be met.
We kindly ask you to respond to our demands by COB (close of business) on June 24, 2020.
Brother Angelo Leccese
Brother Raymond Clyde Merritt, Jr.
Kappa Gamma International Board
cc: Gallaudet University Board of Trustees