University Of Alabama Moves To Integrate Greek System
Students at the University of Alabama and community leaders are reacting to allegations that white sororities denied access to black women because of their race.
The student newspaper in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson White, ran a story that quotes sorority members who say they wanted to recruit at least two black candidates but the students’ names were removed before members could vote on them.
One of the black women who sorority members say was pulled from consideration seemed the perfect recruit. She had a 4.3 grade point average. And she’s from an influential family — the step granddaughter of Alabama Judge John England who is a University Trustee.
“Race may have played a factor or may even been the reason why, though not necessarily from the young people but from some alumni,” says Judge England.
He says some alums may have pressured current sorority members to reject black students.
In a video statement posted Tuesday, University President Judy Bonner acknowledged sororities and fraternities remain segregated. She says chapter members admit while recruiting new candidates a few weeks ago, decisions were made based on race.
“While we will not tell any group who they must pledge, the University of Alabama will not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” she says.
Bonner ordered sororities to use an open bidding process which allows them to add new members at any time.
Outside the Ferguson Center, the student union on campus, a fountain surges but only seems to add to the sticky September day. Students gather for an impromptu musical performance, and hang out between classes.
Erin Williams, a sophomore from Virginia Beach, Va., says, “What shocks me is that a university, such as the University of Alabama, would, you know, still have this issue going on.”
Williams says the university, which once banned African Americans, has made progress. But as the institution celebrates the 50th anniversary of its desegregation, she says it has failed to integrate the powerful Greek system which produces many of the state’s political leaders.
“You’ve got people from the freshman class — they have students from over 77 countries or so. I’m like all these people coming here that love this school and we can’t do something as simple as integrate our Greek system. That just baffles me,” Williams says.