Miss America Kira Kazantsev said Tuesday that she was removed from her college sorority over a letter that made light of hazing, but she denied a report that she was involved in aggressively hazing fellow students.
Kazantsev said on "Good Morning America" that she was asked to leave the Alpha Phi sorority at Hofstra University after sending an email to alumni that included what she said was a joke about making an event "scary" for pledges.
The website Jezebel reported Monday, based on an anonymous source, that Kazantsev was involved with aggressively hazing pledges. Kazantsev denied the report, saying it was untrue and hurtful.
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Kazantsev says she was hazed herself as a pledge and that she took part in some hazing activities. She had been in charge of the sorority's recruitment committee.
"Everyone wants to be a part of something," she said. "At that time, unfortunately, that was just the culture of the university. I was hazed. I was brought up through the organization thinking that was appropriate behavior."
She said the hazing included being forced to stand in line, reciting information and sleepless nights crafting — "menial tasks," she called them.
The Miss America organization says that Kazantsev was open with them about being terminated from the sorority.
Kazantsev's pageant causes included preventing domestic violence and eliminating sexual assaults in the military.