University of Alabama sororities under fire for not taking black students

The University of Alabama’s student newspaper “The Crimson White” is reporting that two African-American women were not offered bids to white sororities this year. The sororities are citing technical reasons for not accepting the girls but some members are saying it’s about race and the alumni didn’t want them. I can only pull a few paragraphs so PLEASE read the entire story with quotes from the different sororities.

From “The Crimson White:”

“By any measure, this candidate was what most universities would consider a prime recruit for any organization, sorority or otherwise. She had a 4.3 GPA in high school, was salutatorian of her graduating class and comes from a family with deep roots in local and state public service and a direct link to The University of Alabama.

“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. 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.

“Like other black women before them, these two students tried to break what remains an almost impenetrable color barrier. Fifty years after Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first black students to desegregate The University of Alabama, there remains one last bastion of segregation on campus: The UA greek system is still almost completely divided along racial lines.

“With each passing year, the University falls further behind other universities in terms of greek integration. The Crimson White reported in 2012 that other large Southern universities, such as Auburn and Ole Miss, have integrated their greek systems to a further extent than the University.”

We have a close African-American friend who pledged a “white” sorority at the University of Georgia several years ago. When we heard she was rushing we were concerned and hoped she would be treated well and accepted. She is a superb student and athlete and just all around a wonderful girl. We hoped the other girls would see that as well. Her mother expressed concern too.

But this young woman told her mother that she would be the racist if she wasn’t willing to join the white sorority. She completely flipped it on its head. To her, it was wrong to choose the black sorority just because she was black.

For all appearances she has been accepted and thrived in the Greek system at the University of Georgia. I’m on Facebook with the young woman, and I love seeing all her photos from her events. I’ve never heard a single complaint and she seems involved and happy.

We know there have been many examples of white students joining minority fraternities and sororities, and I think it can work equally as well in reverse. I think the young women are ready, but the intuitions have to let the change happen.

Do you know of any African-American students that have pledged a white sorority or fraternity? Did it go well? Were they happy? Were they accepted? Do you think it’s important to keep separate fraternities and sororities? Are there benefits? Should there be a choice? What do you think is happening in Alabama? Why have other schools like UGA and Auburn been able to move forward?

71 comments Add your comment

Tim

September 12th, 2013
6:59 am

Obviously, there are plenty of girls that are “qualified”.
How could anyone be eliminated?
Fraternities and sororities are a joke.
Fraternities allows guys to do things that they would consider wrong if done alone.

historywriter

September 12th, 2013
7:02 am

As long as there are “black” sororities and “white” sororities, neither will make investments in recruiting young woman of a different race. I’ve been in a sorority in Alabama, and, yep, that’s the attitude on both sides.

A

September 12th, 2013
7:11 am

Aren’t Greek organizations in college outdated in the 21st century? I never saw the point in them even though I went to a school that was probably 40% Greek.

DB

September 12th, 2013
7:37 am

Alabama sororities are a tough nut to crack. Their rush is particularly vicious — everyone piled in the stadium for Bid Day, delirium by the chosen few, watched glumly by the those that were left on the sidelines. What I thought was particularly interesting in the coverage of this was that the girls currently in the sororities, themselves, weren’t opposed. The opposition came from advisors and alumnae, who apparently were able to nix the girls’ applications.

*Shrug* — I suspect that by the time the African-American girls in question graduate, they will have succeeded in so many other areas that the sorority rush of their freshman year will be a laughable memory. In the meantime, Alabama just looks ignorant as hell.

yuki

September 12th, 2013
7:57 am

20 years ago I joined a white sorrority and there were no black girls participating in our Rush. The white girls had their sorrorities, the black girls had theirs. I don’t think they were even interested. It really wasn’t even a thought back then, that is just the way it was. It’s really the sorrority’s choice who they let in, race or otherwise. I think it’s more an issue of who you have more in common with. If someone doesn’t want you in their sorrority, why bother fighting to get in? Just move on and find something else to do.

larry

September 12th, 2013
8:00 am

Blacks do so much better when they are required to interact with whites,other minorities. It’s when they do not their own culture,they have a chance to excel. This is especially important at a young age in life.
College life is especially important,so stay away from Morris Brown !
There’s a big big difference in a young black kid raised in Cherokee county rather than being raised in Clayton,S. Fulton,or S.Dekalb.
Not only do they do better,they are treated better by whites,other minorities.
They sure do develop a lot of haters for “acting white”. Lol !

What about GA State...

September 12th, 2013
8:01 am

…where “The Black Student Alliance” (in which all members are black) is complaining about, and considering racial bias “charges”, an new “all white” student club – now THAT is a story for another day that will not be pursued…

Alberta

September 12th, 2013
8:08 am

What? An organization from the deep south is basing admission on the color of one’s skin?

Some things never change, do they?

LeeH1

September 12th, 2013
8:15 am

The whole thing is stupid. Look at any sorority, and see how many women are Jewish. Or Shii’a Moslem from Iran. Or Sikh. Or Korean. Or Arab.

Or especially poor inner city people of any ethnic group. Financial status discrimination is the worst for of discrimination, and is the most common among the Greeks.

Sororities and fraternities have been designed to keep like people together, and unlike people apart. Until the universities demand they open up their doors, they will remain closed to “those who are not our kind, darling.”

CODIDAN

September 12th, 2013
8:22 am

The Crimson White…How ironic.

Mayhem

September 12th, 2013
8:23 am

See, once again, a black person has cried racism because they didn’t get their way.

I’m sick of this crap! Unfortunately racism will never die, because most black people continue to play the race card. Without racism, Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, et al, would be out of jobs. They are nothing more than race baiters. That’s all they do, and that’s how they’ve made their millions.

Abbysenia

September 12th, 2013
8:45 am

Are we really surprised? It’s Alabama and the same people who stood in the doors to PREVENT minorities from going to school..are still alive….and passed those same ideal to their offspring. Racism is still alive not becuase of Al Sharpton or such. The new form of racism is to accuse the person being discriminated against of being the purveyor of said discrimination. Anyone who utters racism is now seen as being racist.

It is not a random occurance that in a state like Alabama which is around 25%+ black that you have such low levels of African American participation in any form of life in that state. It’s racist that you expect a black candidate to be PERFECT and the white candidate to be moderate/acceptible. Yet no one seems to notice this. You have a perfect candidate who was denied. What about the other girls who were not perfect that were denied?

jct

September 12th, 2013
9:02 am

@Mayhem

I am not sure if you read the whole article. The two black women have tried to go one with their life. They have not alleged anything but not receiving a bid.

The women who are alleging that race played a part are all white and active members of the organizations involved.

After reading the entire article, it seems to me that the two black women and the women who have stood up to their organizations are fine examples grace and dignity. Did you not read that one of the white women resigned from the sorority in protest?

I don’t think the two black women are looking for anything. It seems to me that the women driving this are those active in the sorority whose voices have been silenced by the alumnae when the actives wanted to bid on the those two black women.

I can’t imagine these two black women trying to Jesse or Al involved. However, I can’t say what those white women might do. They are the ones who are fired up.

SisterSarah

September 12th, 2013
9:09 am

Ahhh the old “Jesse/Al” retort.

“Jesse/Al” reference = Race obsessed angry psychopath.

So what are you going to do about it? Continue to come onto AJC and whine the same old tired refrain? Humor us, O angry one. So predicatable.

joe

September 12th, 2013
9:09 am

Joining a fraternity in college is one of the best decisions I ever made. I have my 3 closest friends because of it who will be in my life until death. Not to mention the amount of fun we all had back then.

We also provided various philanthropic programs for our community including habitat for humanity, throwing an annual Christmas party for underprivileged children, safe rides, etc.

Nobody forced us to rush any particular person and that is the way it should be. Society doesn’t get to dictate policy, especially when you happen to disagree with it. Blacks have their clubs, frats and sororities, so quit complaining. American society is becoming too PC. Remember, we still have freedom in this country and whining about not getting you way when something goes against you just makes you weak.

Read before you post

September 12th, 2013
9:09 am

@Mayhem

Read before you post or speak on a subject. You saw black and white and went all ham hollering racism! Neither of these two young ladies said anything to the sort. The article is asking this question. Come on man. Its in black and white…….no pun intended……….or is it? LOL!

RJ

September 12th, 2013
9:11 am

Good luck with this one Theresa. The racists and will surely come out and respond to this one. Just read the sad and ridiculous post by @Larry. I’m out!

Read before you post

September 12th, 2013
9:13 am

@Joe
Who is whining? I think you guys see black and white and just jump to assumptions………..ass……….u…………me. The person that is bringing this to the light is a white women who takes it as her duty to report what THE CRIMSON WHITE is reporting…………..lol………the Crimson White………funny! Come on man, dont jump to conclusions!

Big_Black

September 12th, 2013
9:14 am

Enter your comments here

USC-69

September 12th, 2013
9:16 am

Any organization still selecting on the basis of skin pigmentation should be disenfranchised and publically humiliated. Any national organization that supports their charter or any University that allows this activity or passively ignores this activity within its confines is in violation of the law and a disgrace to higher education. This University is supported by tax-payers, including a large amount of federal tax. Time for some remedial education. Alabama appears to have a mental retention problem – maybe it’s the diet and lack of exercise.

SisterSarah

September 12th, 2013
9:19 am

“Blacks have their clubs, frats and sororities, so quit complaining.”

Ironically this is the VERY reason they DO. You confirm the premise of the entire article. You want to exclude, and at the same time complain when the alternative is establshed in reaction to the exclusion.

I’m hearing George Wallace in my head suddenly. Some of you just prefer it that way.

FCM

September 12th, 2013
9:23 am

Does Alpah Kappa Alpha have white members? How about Delta Sigma Theta?

I am serious! I have honestly never met someone from those Sororities that was, nor heard of one.

DB

September 12th, 2013
9:36 am

@USC-69: OK, I’ll bite: Does that include the Black Student Union at Alabama? The African-American Graduate Student Association? What about the black fraternities and sororities? Heck, forget the Univ. of Alabama. What about the NAACP? What about the Black Congressional Caucus? What about . . . the National Association of Black Journalists? Black Accountants? National Black MBA Association? National Medical Association? Organization of Black Designers? Etc.? I swear, if there were any organizations that were, for example, the National White MBA Association, you wouldn’t be able to hear for all the screaming . . . exclusivity cuts both ways.

Big_Black

September 12th, 2013
9:36 am

@larry

That is the most idiotic thing that I’ve ever heard. It is a FACT that people excel better with their own kind. Not racist just nature. I graduated from one of the best HBCUs in the country and it gave me more than an education. It offered me instruction how to navigate through this life and to learn how to work and coexist with “other people”.

I’m “old school” and I cannot understand the post segregation crowd. Why would you gravitate toward a “crowd” that “tolerates” you? Is is that you didn’t grow up around and, as a result, don’t understand your “own kind”? Is that you think that your “own kind” is inferior? Is it self-loathing?

This MUST be said: I think that intergration in public accomodations was necessary. It was wrong to take people’s tax money and deny them access to services. HOWEVER, I think that somehow, over time, people confused public accomodations with social integration.

I grew in a time when the black community was rife with people who excelled in every endeavor of life. Once “integration” hit “we” spread out hoping to interact peaceably with others only to find that it was the same as it ever was.The only difference was that they didn’t treat you the same way because the law was a little more on our side and for fear of “us” fighting back. We have seen in time that “social integration” has not worked for all. The two little girls, if they were taught THEIR history, should not have been suprised. In america, NOBODY should be suprised when it comes to race. It is a festering wound.

I miss some parts of the days of yore. :-(

Big_Black

September 12th, 2013
9:37 am

HB

September 12th, 2013
9:49 am

Good for these young members for speaking out and challenging their alumnae!

Denise

September 12th, 2013
9:57 am

@FCM – I am a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and yes we do have White members. Not at my school because I went to Spelman College…even though we did have a White exchange student that we really WANTED to pledge Delta, but she left before we had a line. There was a White Delta that was initiated in 1994 at Ole Miss or Mississippi State (I can’t remember which as it was 19 years ago…the same time I was initiated.). No there are not many but it is in our bylaws that we are not to discriminate. Also we have Muslims in our organization, as well as agnostics that I know personally. I don’t know of any athiests. We are founded on Christian principles so I doubt seriously an athiest would feel comfortable with some of our rituals and procedures. I guess you could call that self-elimination because we do not ask a person’s religious affiliations or beliefs in the application.

People are evaluated for membership based on GPA, leadership, community service, a minimum of 2 letters of recommendation, and chapter vote. We do not allow freshman to pledge so they can get to know people for more than a week and for them to be able to have experience in leadership and community service and get meaningful letters of recommendations.

So please talk about what you know.

Rebecca

September 12th, 2013
10:01 am

Ole Miss has moved ahead too with many minorities pledging traditionally ‘white groups.’ Is it as diverse as it could be, no, but progress is being made. Come on Bama.

Ann

September 12th, 2013
10:09 am

@ Yuki – So, if they have just about everything in common with someone of another race, is it still okay with you to exclude? It sounds like the girl mentioned in this article had a lot in common “on paper” until they saw her skin color.

Ann

September 12th, 2013
10:11 am

@ DB – With a lot of issues, younger people are more tolerant than those in older generations. It’s unfortunate that the alumni and advisors can’t recognize that and set aside their bias for the benefit of the current students.

FCM

September 12th, 2013
10:14 am

@ BIg_Black…thank you, thank you for answering without “attacking”. I was pledged to Delta Phi Epsilon. I was surprised to learn it was a “traditionally Jewish” Sorority. Some how that detail had not made it to KSU back when they chartered. (I did not take my sister vows, by the time I would have I realized I should have asked to pledge Phi Mu).

Ann

September 12th, 2013
10:18 am

@ Mayhem – I am a Southern caucasian. I have lived in the South and the North and have seen racism personally in every city I have lived. Sometimes the facts do lead to the racism charge. and sometimes the claims are false or it is labeled as the reason for failure when other things came into play. But, just because there are attention seekers or bad apples trumping up claims does not mean you ignore all legitimate ones. It would be a sad society if we did. If you read the profile listed in the article, I am sure you realize that this student would have been invited if she had been white.

FCM

September 12th, 2013
10:21 am

I would have pledge Phi Mu b/c I had more in common with those girls. Delta Phi Epsilon being traditionally Jewish was a side note not a reason I did not take my vows. My point in the note is that groups of people come together becuase they find common ground. It could be race, religion or something else but if a group does not have a common ground you identify with it is not likely to be a good fit.

FCM

September 12th, 2013
10:30 am

@ Denise thank you too. I appreciated finding out.

SisterSarah

September 12th, 2013
10:32 am

Thank you Denise! I always love it when you can hear from “the horse’s mouth”, otherwise just toss propaganda like it’s nothing. There are also White kids in a couple of the “Black” frats on my kid’s campus.

FCM

September 12th, 2013
10:33 am

@ Denise, I did not talk about those Sororities, I asked a question. A ligit question, that I qualified with having said I had not met anyone white from them. I guess I should have read your last line before I said thank you.

Todd

September 12th, 2013
10:48 am

Under fire by who ? Someone needs to get a life . You can’t push stuff on people especially the youth for better or worse .

Virginia

September 12th, 2013
11:21 am

As president of the local Junior Service League 15 years years ago, I suggested casting a larger net for prospective members. I was told by other board members that “they” (African American women) had their own clubs. I was also advised that sustaining members would be unhappy and would pull their financial support. In retrospect, I realized my mistake in thinking all young, educated women would be open to this step. I should have worked behind the scenes to garner support before presenting the suggestion. I also should have told my children this story because… Recently, I asked my son, who is Rush Chairman for his fraternity, if they gave bids to any African American students. His response was that his fraternity alumni, who continue to financially support them, would go ape shi!! and pull their $. We need to prepare our children to be open to social change and we need to teach them how to facilitate that change.

Real Life

September 12th, 2013
12:00 pm

I pledged a sorority in college back in the 70s. No black students participated in rush the year I pledged. The next year several black students did and most were accepted into a sorority. One I know that was not was rejected because of grades. And I attended a university in Alabama. Sororities were not entrenched at the school and the members were more open minded. I follow rush every year and also follow the national news magazine for our organization. Each year the photos show much more diversity.
I would not have stood a chance at joining a sorority at Alabama. I did not have the looks, the social background or the snob factor needed, which a friend tells me is still a very necessary qualification today. But I fit right in at my university. Not all southern universities and the organizations you find on them are blatantly racist. And you will also find racism at universities and organizations across the country regardless of location.
Racism is no longer the stronghold of the Caucasian race. Members of all races can be racist.
I have no idea why these girls were rejected. Maybe it was race, maybe other factors were involved. I was not there and I will not judge.
And I am tired of all of those, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, etc., who make judgments based on the color on one’s skin. Racism is racism and it is not restricted to one particular group. We will never solve the problem until we recognize that and learn to deal with it.

FLNavyWife

September 12th, 2013
12:24 pm

I graduated from the University of Florida about six years ago, and not only did my traditional Panhellenic sorority have a black member, but several other top houses did, as well. There were also members of other ethnicities–Asian, Latina, etc. If girls were pretty, well-put together, and had a good resume and personality, they could do well during UF’s Rush (although there were certainly houses where it helped to go to the “right” high school, or be wearing a certain brand of clothing, etc.) I do think the mind-set in Florida is a bit more ‘liberal’ than other southern states, but it’s encouraging to read comments from those of you in other areas who had similar experiences.

In reading the article in the Crimson White, it sounds like it was the alumnae pulling the strings and threatening to pull funding, etc., rather than the current active members being racist. I remember a couple of alumnae being somewhat involved during Rush every year, but never to the extent that the Alabama girls describe. It was usually stuff along the lines of, “That girl is a quadruple legacy and she needs to be extended a bid”–despite the fact that the rushee had been rude to a member, or had no personality, etc. My sister was in another UF sorority, more recently, and made similar comments…racism was never an issue. And their Nationals was quick to get involved if there seemed to be a problem in the house, whether Rush-related or not.

It will be interesting to see if some of these Alabama’s sororities’ national leadership gets involved. Hard to prove since a lot of this stuff is definitely the actives’ word vs. alumnae’ word, but we’ll see.

Denise

September 12th, 2013
12:36 pm

@FCM – I apologize for being combatitive if you took it that way.

Denise

September 12th, 2013
1:22 pm

Also….just so yall know. In Black sororities, there are Black people who sue or threaten to sue because they don’t get in. I’m not saying that this situation is the same, but it is not always a race issue. Often it is an entitlement issue. “My Mama is a Delta so yall HAVE to pick me and if you don’t I’m going to try to get you in trouble” kind of thing. You can’t imagine how many times we had to explain why someone was not a good candidate for membership and how many people are accepted into the sorority just to keep the peace…even when they are not “ideal”, as in, won’t represent the sorority well (doing drugs, always drunk at parties, sleeping with the football team…it’s real).

Guest

September 12th, 2013
1:36 pm

The University of Alabama is the Wal-Mart of higher education.

Christy

September 12th, 2013
2:08 pm

I’m a white female in a black sorority and I have to say my sorority is probably one of the most diverse in the NPHC – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. My sorority has always been open to people of all walks of life and it has been a great experience being apart of such a wonderful sorority. I am heavily involved with all community service projects and social events and have never felt out of place because I wasn’t black. I love my sorority!

LWhite

September 12th, 2013
2:12 pm

@ FCM – Just piggybacking off of Denise. I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha and we do have white and hispanic members.

DublDawg

September 12th, 2013
3:45 pm

I haven’t seen any blacks complaining about all black fraternities and sororities, or all black colleges for that matter.

If traditionally white sororities have mixers or swaps with traditionally white fraternities, how are they going to arrange dates for the black girls in the sororities? A lot of whites do not want to date blacks because they do not believe it to be morally or socially acceptable or are just not attracted to them, and it is the same for a lot of blacks that do not want to date whites. The forceful social engineering has consequences and causes problems. Do the all black sororities want to have mixers with all white fraternities? Most probably do not and would prefer to have social engagements with black fraternities. Moreover, they are private associations despite being on a college campus and the right of free association should be respected. The fraternities and sororities could make it easier on themselves if they moved off campus into their own houses and cut the strings.

Christy, you must be one ugly white girl.

card shark...

September 12th, 2013
4:23 pm

…but, I thought racism was dead and anyone who brings it up must be playing the race card.

Denise

September 12th, 2013
5:14 pm

@card shark….surely you are being sarcastic. Racism is alive and well, and it comes from all sides.

@Christy…I am you found a “home” in ZPhiB! My cousin is a Zeta and LOVES her organization. We had only a few Zetas on my campus. In 1994 only one was initiated. Her name was “Me and my shadow.” :-) We mostly had Deltas and AKAs.

@FCM – again, I apologize. I re-read what you wrote and what I wrote in response and realized that I misunderstood your tone and responded inappropriately.

@DublDawg…the purpose of the collegiate chapters of sororities and fraternities is to benefit the college and the community/service area. Alumnae chapter have service areas that they support. “Untying” from the colleges would undo our purpose. Also, some frats and sororities – especially Black sororities and fraternities or those at smaller schools – don’t have the funds to have a house. The organizations that do have them are very lucky! Or not, if you consider the liabilities. All the stories you hear about “frat parties” make me wonder if it’s worth it. Oh, and I went to lots of parts at White frat houses when I was at Georgia Tech. We do “mix”. :-)

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

September 12th, 2013
5:42 pm

I think those organizations are gay.

catlady

September 12th, 2013
6:07 pm

Same as it was in 1973.