McNeese fraternity Kappa Alpha changes name of 'Old South' formal

Published: Jan. 25, 2016 at 11:00 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM CDT
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Kappa Alpha 'Old South' (Source: KA members)
Kappa Alpha 'Old South' (Source: KA members)
Kappa Alpha 'Old South' 1998 (Source: Facebook)
Kappa Alpha 'Old South' 1998 (Source: Facebook)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity that traces its roots to southern heritage and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, is discontinuing the use of the name "Old South" for its annual formal and week-long celebration.

The formal traditionally came with an antebellum theme attached and was often held at a plantation. In the past, members wore confederate uniforms and their dates wore antebellum hoop-skirt dresses.

"The real meaning behind it is the southern culture, especially during Robert E. Lee's days, our spiritual founder, and ultimately just to celebrate as brothers for a whole week," said McNeese KA president, Aaron Myers.

The tradition has stood since 1939, but for the first time, this year the fraternity will no longer use the name "Old South" or any similar name for their functions. Earlier this month, National KA Executives announced they would prohibit the use of the name and anything attributed to it. A letter to chapters reads, "All functions and activities must be conducted with restraint and dignity and without trappings and symbols that might be misinterpreted and objectionable to the general public."

"I understand why they did it - just to take preventative steps that people could see as it being the wrong representation of who we are," said McNeese KA member, Garrett Benoit.

While the change came as a shock to many at first, McNeese KA members say "Old South" is just a name and they'll continue to honor what it represents.

"It's kind of a representation of how we were raised; the gentlemen qualities that our spiritual founder, Robert E. Lee, portrayed," Benoit said.

Members' dates will still be able to wear antebellum hoop-skirt dresses. The formal will now be referred to as the "Rose Ball."

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