Univ. of Alabama Faces Allegations of Segregation in Sorority System

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 17 2013 2:26 PM

Univ. of Alabama Faces Allegations of Segregation in Sorority System

Fans walk around on campus outside of Bryant-Denny Stadium prior to the game between the LSU Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

On Monday, the University of Alabama announced it had ordered traditionally white sororities to open up and extend their recruitment of students, amidst nationwide criticism over racial bias in the school’s Greek system.

The move came after an article published in the university’s student newspaper, The Crimson White, detailed one highly qualified student’s rejection from a sorority reportedly on the grounds that she was black.

The recruit, who asked to remain anonymous, seemed like the perfect sorority pledge on paper, yet didn’t receive a bid from any of the 16 Panhellenic sororities during formal recruitment. [Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie] Gotz and others said they know why: The recruit is black. She and at least one other black woman, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of personal safety, went through formal recruitment this year, but neither was offered a bid.

Facing criticism, Inside Higher Ed reports, “[University] President Judy Bonner met with the leaders of the various chapters, and has ordered them to all use a rush system that could allow them to quickly admit some black members, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday night.” The new system allows sororities to offer membership to students who were not previously accepted, but, Inside Higher Ed points out, “traditionally, the system has been used by sororities that did not meet their membership goals.”

But, to some, hastily implementing a new system to improve diversity appears to be more of a quick fix than a long term solution. "Going out and offering bids to girls that have already been cut is putting a band-aid on a larger issue," Ross Green a student at the University of Alabama, told AL.com. "We see a need for the administration to come out and make a statement that racism is not tolerated on our campus."

“The issue is the alumnae and not the undergraduates,” Gentry McCreary, former University of Alabama director of Greek affairs told Time. “There’s definitely some fear, whether real or imagined, that there would be some repercussions if a sorority took an African-American member. They’re able to subvert the will of the chapter, and it’s gone on for far too long.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.


Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 7:30 AM Ring Around the Rainbow
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.