The Most Notorious Sororities in the United States

Alabama's Phi Mu sorority I © carmichaellibrary / Flickr
Alabama's Phi Mu sorority I © carmichaellibrary / Flickr
Millions of young women will go on to join a sorority during their time in college, but not all of the organizations are created equal; even those with sterling reputations can get mired in scandal. Here are some of the most notorious sororities in the United States, and the missteps that have chipped away at their names.

Alpha Kappa Delta Phi

Alpha Kappa Delta Phi’s most famous moment came in March of 2016 when authorities arrested three members of the UC Santa Cruz chapter for operating an international drug-trafficking ring. The trio (who teamed up with members of a UC Santa Cruz fraternity) had over $100,000 of Ecstasy in their possession when they were arrested. When investigators dug in further, it turned out that the girls’ fellow sorority members were some of their biggest clients.

Kappa Alpha Theta

Judged purely on its number of famous alumni, Kappa Alpha Theta is the undisputed winner. Its ranks of notable women include Tory Burch, Melinda Gates, Claire McCaskill, and Sheryl Crow. But the University of Michigan’s chapter was forced to disband after a Snapchat video depicting topless, drunk, underage members licking chocolate sauce off fraternity members’ chests went viral.

A Kappa Alpha Theta class in 1964 I © Lance Nix/Flickr

Alpha Kappa Alpha

One of the oldest black sororities in the country, the Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter at Cal State Los Angeles has a murky tragedy in its recent history. In 2002, two pledges drowned at the beach after being forced to work out for hours in the sun and then walk backward into the Pacific. One was swept away by a wave, and the other went in to try and rescue her. Both were so exhausted from their hazing that they died.

Delta Gamma

Delta Gamma got some unwanted attention with the publication of a screed from the president of the University of Maryland chapter in 2013. The president was upset because she had gotten reports that members had been “f*cking WEIRD at sports” (during Greek Week games with their brother fraternity, Sigma Nu). “FRATS DON’T LIKE BORING SORORITIES,” she reprimanded her “sisters,” before going on to describe them, and threaten them, in much more colorful language. She ultimately resigned after the email went viral, but the damage to Delta Gamma’s reputation had been done.

Delta Gammas at Roanoke College I © roanokecollege/Flickr

Alpha Xi Delta

Alpha Xi Deltas are known for being partiers. But the Miami-Ohio chapter took it to a new offensive level when they got drunk and took themselves to the nearby National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. They threw up and urinated all over the museum, including on the walls, smoked on the dance floor, and threw their drinks around the room, nearly missing priceless historical artifacts.

Kappa Kappa Gamma

The Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority has a reputation for being social and philanthropic—it runs an empowerment program for middle school girls called GIRLS Academy, in which chapter members teach leadership skills and self-esteem building exercises. But things in the sorority aren’t always perfect: one member of the SMU chapter filed a $1 million lawsuit over a leaked video of a topless dance party inside the house on campus, which the resident “house mom” filmed to use as blackmail.

Phi Mu

While not one of the largest sororities in the country, Phi Mu has arguably the best sorority house at its University of Alabama chapter. The $13 million, 39,444-square-foot home features a baby grand piano and a chandelier that once hung in New York’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, which is what the whole house feels like.

Alabama's Phi Mu sorority I © carmichaellibrary / Flickr