UA president: Sorority decisions based on race (video statement - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

UA president: Sorority decisions based on race (video statement)

Posted: Updated:
University of Alabama President Dr. Judy Bonner released a video statement acknowledging that campus sororities have used race to make decisions on new members, and she's ordering changes. University of Alabama President Dr. Judy Bonner released a video statement acknowledging that campus sororities have used race to make decisions on new members, and she's ordering changes.

By JAY REEVES
Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama is ordering changes in its sorority system amid charges of discrimination in the Greek-letter organizations, which the president acknowledged Tuesday are segregated by race.

President Judy Bonner mandated that sororities belonging to a campus association composed of white sororities begin using a recruitment process in which new members can be added at any time, and she expanded the maximum allowable size of the groups to 360 people to increase the chances for prospective members.

Bonner, in a video statement released by the university, said people are watching Alabama just as they did when it admitted its first black students five decades ago.

"This time it is because our Greek system remains segregated and chapter members admit that during the recruitment process that ended a few weeks ago decisions were made based on race," she said.

Bonner said "systemic and profound changes" were required for graduates to compete globally.

"While we will not tell any group who they must pledge, the University of Alabama will not tolerate discrimination of any kind," said Bonner, who became the university's first female president less than a year ago.

Bonner enacted the new policy Monday just days after the student newspaper, The Crimson White, detailed allegations that alumnae of some all-white sororities had blocked chapters from adding two black students as new members in August, when the university announced 1,896 new sorority members.

Members of the Faculty Senate, meeting after Bonner's statement was issued, said the new rush rules were a step in the right direction, but many said more action was needed to eradicate racism in Greek-letter groups.

Language and classics teacher Sierra R. Turner, a black woman, said opening up the recruitment process was "rather token" since it wasn't accompanied by any way to measure progress.

"It's not good enough," she said.

Other teachers questioned why action wasn't being taken to integrate men's organizations, and some called for an investigation of a Greek-controlled organization called "The Machine" that influences campus politics.

Faculty Senate President Steve Miller said students and teachers would march from the library to the administration building on Wednesday morning to demonstrate for change.

"We're going to be there awhile," he said.

University of Alabama trustee John England Jr., a state court judge in Tuscaloosa and a former member of the Alabama Supreme Court, last week confirmed his step-granddaughter was one of two young black women who tried to join an all-white sorority but were rejected for membership.

Gov. Robert Bentley and trustee Paul Bryant Jr., son of the legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, are among those who have publicly criticized segregated Greek-letter organizations at the university since The Crimson White story.

The charges of racism are marring a year in which the university is trying to show racial progress in the 50 years since then-Gov. George C. Wallace's "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" blocking integration at Alabama, and with the school's football team ranked No. 1 nationally.

Allegations of racism at Alabama provided a backdrop over the weekend at ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the 1963 bombing that killed four black girls at a church in Birmingham. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson suggested picketing all-white sororities at the university, and Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, whose district includes Tuscaloosa, said the situation at Alabama shows discrimination isn't dead.

"When we still have fraternities and sororities in our state that block because of race, we still have work to do," said Sewell.

The university enrolled a record 34,852 students this semester, and about 13 percent of its students last year were black. Its Greek organizations have been segregated by race since the first black students enrolled and established social organizations, with one oversight organization composed of white sororities and another composed of minority sororities.

Only a few blacks ever have attempted to join historically white Greek groups at Alabama, where there are also historically black fraternities and sororities.

University spokeswoman Cathy Andreen said Bonner's order on recruitment applies to 18 white sororities in the Alabama Panhellenic Association, the campus arm of the National Panhellenic Conference. Eight black sororities and fraternities at Alabama are affiliated the National Pan-Hellenic Council Inc.

The Interfraternity Council overs 27 historically white fraternities, and an umbrella organization is composed of leaders of all three groups.

  • Central Alabama NewsMore>>

  • Justin Bieber arrested on assault, dangerous driving charges, according to Ontario police

    Justin Bieber arrested on assault, dangerous driving charges, according to Ontario police

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:42 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:42:52 GMT
    Canadian pop star Justin Bieber faces new charges after police said Tuesday he was arrested for dangerous driving and assault following a collision between a minivan and an ATV that led to a physical altercation in southwestern Ontario.More >>
    Canadian pop star Justin Bieber faces new charges after police said Tuesday he was arrested for dangerous driving and assault following a collision between a minivan and an ATV that led to a physical altercation in southwestern Ontario.
    More >>
  • Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Video appears to show beheading of US journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIS

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:26 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:26:17 GMT
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.More >>
    An Internet video purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group.
    More >>
  • Halliburton reaches $1.1Billion oil spill settlement

    Halliburton reaches $1.1Billion oil spill settlement

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 10:11 AM EDT2014-09-02 14:11:01 GMT
    Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, will be paid into a trust until appeals are resolved over the next two years.More >>
    Halliburton says it has agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle a substantial portion of plaintiff claims arising from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The settlement, which is subject to court approval, will be paid into a trust until appeals are resolved over the next two years.
    More >>
  • Anniston - Gadsden Area NewsMore>>

  • Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Clean out your cabinets for Drug Take-Back Day

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 1:38 PM EDT2014-09-02 17:38:07 GMT
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
    Do you have a drawer or cabinet of medicines? Are any of them out of date? Now is the time to check because you can safely dispose of the medications at the Etowah County Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. It is part of a nationwide effort. The event will be Saturday, September 27. A take-back station will be set up at the East Gadsden Walmart from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.A law enforcement officer will remain with the drug disposal box at all times, and the drugs that are turned in will be tr...More >>
  • Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Arrest made in large level extortion scheme

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:45 PM EDT2014-08-29 16:45:16 GMT
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
    "Everett Leon Stout, 72 and Miriam Clair Schultz, 67 are charged with 14 counts of extortion.More >>
  • Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Gadsden police recover more than 300 stolen items; felony charges against suspected fence

    Thursday, August 28 2014 11:22 PM EDT2014-08-29 03:22:34 GMT
    Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)Joe Walker Pearl (Photo: Etowah County Sheriff's Office)
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
    Police in Gadsden are trying to return hundreds of stolen items to their rightful owners. Captain Paul Cody said officers bust a large fencing operation this week. Joe Pearl, 75, is the suspect in the case. It took a long time to sort through and document a very wide range of stolen property. "We've collected a lot of stuff," Cody said. "Toilet paper. We have non-firearms related weapons, we have karaoke machines, musical instruments, car stereos, underwear."More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...