Sororities Accused of Discrimination at University of Alabama

A campus tradition is coming under closer scrutiny.

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The University of Alabama campus (UA.edu)

It's been more than 10 years since a black student made it through the recruitment process of a sorority at the University of Alabama.

This year it seemed that a change was inevitable when a black student with a flawless résumé applied, according to the New York Times, but even she didn't make the cut. According to reports from sorority members themselves, it was her skin color that was the problem for some members and alumnae.

The allegations, reported on Wednesday in the student newspaper The Crimson White, were based on the account of Melanie Gotz, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, and members of several other sororities who remained anonymous. In the report, parts of which were corroborated by sorority members, many students said they were open to recruiting the young woman, whose family has asked that she not be named; she is the stepdaughter of a state legislator and stepgranddaughter of a former State Supreme Court justice and current trustee of the university.

The members said they were pressured by outsiders, including a case in which, The Crimson White reported, the recruit was dropped from consideration at the insistence of a volunteer sorority adviser who also works for the university.

The University of Alabama is being pressured to look into matters like these, and the controversy has reached as high as the governor's office.

Deborah M. Lane, a spokeswoman for the university administration, which has been criticized in the past for not doing enough about segregation within the Greek system, said that the university has been working with the organizations "to remove any barriers that prevent young women" from "making the choices they want to make." She also said that these groups "determine their own membership selection processes and expect their members to follow their procedures during recruitment."

Gov. Robert Bentley, who earned his undergraduate degree at Alabama, referred to the controversy on Thursday, saying to a television news reporter that universities could put pressure on the Greek system to integrate. He said that his wife, also an Alabama graduate, blamed the alumnae. "Personally, I think they need to change their attitude," the governor said.

The situation is currently being investigated within the organization, which has an anti-discrimination policy, according to the Times.

Read more at the New York Times.

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