Society

Sororities At U of Alabama Refuse African-American Applicants, 50 Years After University Was Integrated

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The young woman was the stepdaughter of a state legislator as well as a stepgranddaughter to a current trustee of the University of Alabama who is also a former State Supreme Court justice -- and she carried a 4.3 GPA from high school where she was class salutatorian. When she applied to join a sorority on campus, the Greek organizations should have lined up to recruit her.

Except they didn’t. She did not get into to any of the 16 sororities on the University of Alabama campus. It seems that this impressive young woman had one glaring problem.

She was black.

She, and one other African-American student who also failed to get any interest from a campus sorority, wold not let their names be published, fearing reprisals. Amazingly -- or perhaps not so amazingly -- 50 years after the University first admitted a black student over the objections of then-Governor George Wallace, who famously stood in the schoolhouse door to physically block the entrance of two black students (see picture), the University’s sororities remain “white only.”

But in a development that is genuinely surprising, the revelation that African-American applicants were deliberately shunned this year comes not from one of the students who was turned away, but from a sorority member.

“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?” said Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz during her sorority’s meeting to vote on new recruits. Gotz said her question was met with silence.

“People are too scared of what the repercussions are of maybe taking a black girl,” Gotz told the Crimson White campus newspaper. “That’s stupid, but who’s going to be the one to make that jump? How much longer is it going to take till we have a black girl in a sorority? It’s been years, and it hasn’t happened.”

She also said the the sorority’s alumnae advisers pressured the group not to admit the African-American recruit. But other sorority members, Gotz said, backed her position, which was “cool to see.”

Stephannie Bailey, executive director of the sorority, e-mailed the New York Times to say that her organization was “actively investigating” the incident to determine if any of its anti-discrimination policies were violated.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley put the blame on the alumnae advisers.

“Personally, I think they need to change their attitude,” he said.

SOURCES: Crimson White, New York Times