The 23-year-old Miss New York told ‘Good Morning America’ that she forced pledges to spend ‘sleepless nights crafting,’ but that any hazing was done under a ‘broad definition’ of the act. Kazantsev was kicked out of Alpha Phi in April 2013 after she says a joke she made in an email was ‘taken out of context.’
Miss America swears she’s just misunderstood.
Beleaguered pageant winner Kira Kazantsev appeared on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning to explain away the hazing allegations that bubbled up Monday about her time as a member of a Hofstra University sorority.
The 23-year-old blond beauty said the bombshell allegations of “dirty hazing,” first reported Monday by the website Jezebel, are “just not true,” but that she and other Alpha Phi sorority sisters did subject some pledges to “sleepless nights crafting — things that were like menial tasks.”
“I was involved with some of those activities while I was at Hofstra and I came in as an impressionable freshman,” she told the ABC morning show. “Everybody wants to be a part of something and at the time, unfortunately, that was just the culture of the university. I was hazed and I was kind of brought up through the organization thinking that that’s appropriate behavior when clearly, I’m two years removed from the organization today and I understand, that that’s just not true.”
The unnamed former sorority sister in the Jezebel report claimed Kazantsev, the third consecutive Miss New York to win the pageant, made recruits’ lives “a living hell.”
Mel Evans/AP Kazantsev ran on a platform pledging to fight domestic violence and said she would tell young girls ‘it’s OK to make mistakes. You know, that’s life.’
Under Kazantsev’s direction as head of recruitment for the Alpha Phi sorority at the Hempstead, L.I., college, pledges were put through a ringer of abuse and belittling, the source said. Recruits were called foul names, berated for physical imperfections, and forced to perform tasks that left some exhausted and bruised, the source told the website. When Hofstra University was tipped off about the “dirty pledging” that Kazantsev and her best friend, a sorority sister, were up to, officials launched an investigation.
Kazantsev said on Tuesday she was ultimately booted in April 2013 for a joke, “taken out of context” and forwarded to the Alpha Phi national office, that she’d made in an email.
The joke, she said, was “that we would make the evening scary for the pledges, when that never came to fruition, when none of those things that I’ve been accused of ever happened or were ever intended to happen,” she told GMA.
“All I can do is sit here and be honest and share that, yes, I was involved, under the broad definition of hazing at some point, but never ever in a million years what (the Jezebel report) is claiming to hold.”
The Miss America organization stood by their winner Monday, saying in a statement that the pageant was aware of her tarnished past. And Kazantsev, who ran on anti-domestic violence platform, promised to “take this negative and turn it into a positive.”
As for the young girls who look up to the crown holder?
“I’d tell them it’s OK to make mistakes,” she said. “You know, that’s life.”