At least two black students rushing University of Alabama Panhellenic sororities during last month’s recruitment week did not make the cut because of the color of their skin, according to UA’s student-run newspaper The Crimson White.
While the news that two black sorority recruits were not well received isn’t a shocker to most people, the source of the complaints may come as a surprise.
In “The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists,” CW reporters Abbey Crain and Matt Ford report that the women who are alleging that race played a part are all white and active members of the organizations involved.
Multiple young women from different sororities have come forward and said that, against the wishes of many current members, advisers and alumnae pulled the plug on “a prime recruit for any organization” because she was black.
According to the CW, members of Alpha Gamma Delta were told during recruitment that the sorority would not be voting on potential new members this year because the chapter had already agreed on who would make it through to the next round.
Sorority member Melanie Gotz told CW that she raised her hand and asked, “Are we not going to talk about the black girl?” … Her question was answered by silence.
The recruit, who so far remains anonymous, appeared the perfect sorority pledge on paper.
Yet on sight a young woman who achieved 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” didn’t receive a bid from any of the 16 Panhellenic sororities during formal recruitment, the CW reported.
Although Gotz was the first person to voice her opinion, questioning the motives behind executive members and alumnae of Alpha Gamma Delta as to why they dropped the black student that she wanted to become a pledge, according to the CW she wasn’t the only one.
“It was just like a big elephant in the room,” Gotz told the CW. “So I raised my hand.”
After which, other sorority members in the room began standing up for voting the girl through to the next round of recruitment, she said.
“It was just so cool to see everyone willing to take this next step and be the sorority that took a black girl and not care,” Gotz was quoted. “The entire house wanted this girl to be in Alpha Gam. We were just powerless over the alums.”
Down the row, an unidentified member of Delta Delta Delta sorority told the CW her chapter’s alumnae also interfered with normal voting procedures for the same girl Alpha Gamma dropped.
“To my knowledge, the president and the rush chair and our rush advisors were behind this, and if we had been able to pledge her, it would’ve been an honor,” the Tri Delta member said. “However, our [alumnae] stepped in and went over us and had her dropped.”
During the first round of Tri Delta’s recruitment, the member said the rushee received extremely high scores from members, and she believes sororities would have been fighting over her, if she had been white.
"The only thing that kept her back was the color of her skin in Tri Delta," she said.
An anonymous member of Chi Omega also told the CW that she knows the potential recruit got perfect scores from the people in her chapter the first day. She attributes Chi Omega’s rush adviser for being responsible for her drop.
She said other members called Chi Omega national headquarters, asking them to investigate possible discrimination, and the chapter's philanthropy chair -- who had campaigned for the rushee’s selection -- summarily resigned from the sorority and moved out of the sorority house.
Another unnamed source confirmed that Pi Beta Phi planned to pledge the same black student recruited by Alpha Gamma Delta and Chi Omega. She said alumnae threatened to cut financial support to the chapter if that happened.
Five decades after then-Gov. George Wallace stood in a Foster Auditorium doorway in an unsuccessful attempt to block black students Vivian Malone and James Hood from registering, segregation still has a deep rooted hold in the education system.
Obviously The University of Alabama’s 50th anniversary commemorative theme, “Through the Doors,” does not extend to greek integration, but maybe someday it will.
Someone has to break the rules to make a change, Gotz told the CW. “I really, really hope it ignites something. … It sparks something for the future that this can be something that we accomplish.”