Many times collegiate members will surprise the alumni with their ability to make informed, mature decisions. The fact is advancement in the fraternity/sorority life has always been lead by dynamic young people. Congratulations to the outstanding young women in each sorority who stood up to alumnae and showed real leadership.
Stephen Dethrage | firstname.lastname@example.org By Stephen Dethrage | email@example.com
on September 20, 2013 at 1:50 PM, updated September 20, 2013 at 5:02 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Days after the University of Alabama admitted that some Greek organizations excluded potential members based on race, women from at least two traditionally white UA sororities took to social media Friday afternoon to celebrate their groups’ newest members, which include black students.
Halle Lindsay and Cami McCant are among those black women who accepted invitations through the continuous open bid process, which was reopened by UA President Judy Bonner after the university landed in the national spotlight for racial segregation and claims of discrimination in its Greek system.
Lindsay accepted a bid Friday from Alpha Gamma Delta. McCant, a senior, accepted a bid to Kappa Alpha Theta.
They are the first black students to receive and accept bids to traditionally white sororities since Carla Ferguson joined Gamma Phi in 2003.
On Friday, Lindsay tweeted a quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Other posts on social media included the hashtag #makinghistory.
The move for diversity in UA’s sororities comes 50 years after desegregation of the university’s student body and the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.” On June 11, 1963, Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of Foster Auditorium in an attempt to block two black students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, from registering for classes.
UA has been commemorating the anniversary with a series of events and website that touts an “ongoing commitment to change over the past 50 years and to continued progress in the next 50 years.”
On Wednesday, hundreds of students and faculty members marched to the university’s administration building with a banner proclaiming “The Final Stand in the Schoolhouse Door,” calling for the end of racial discrimination everywhere on campus.
The groundbreaking sorority bids come at the end of a recruitment process that started in early August, when some asked if this was the year a Panhellenic sorority would offer a black woman a bid.
Despite UA having the largest sorority recruitment in the nation, no traditionally white sorority offered a bid to a black recruit at Bid Day on Aug. 17.
Almost a month later, the university’s student newspaper The Crimson White published a report in which sorority women accused their advisers and alumnae of blocking them from offering bids to well-qualified black women.
As the story spread, major players were critical of segregation in the sororities. Gov. Robert Bentley said it was time for an attitude change. The Rev. Jesse Jackson came to the university’s campus to decry racial segregation in any of its forms.
After a Sunday night meeting behind closed doors with advisers to all Panhellenic sororities, Bonner mandated Monday that continuous open bidding happen in all sororities in an effort to achieve more diversity in the Greek system.
In a video statement released Tuesday, Bonner said that “the eyes of the nation are once again on the University of Alabama.”
“If we are going to adequately prepare our students to compete in the global society, we simply must make systemic and profound changes,” Bonner said.
The move to change followed quickly.
At Wednesday’s march, Alpha Omicron Pi sorority member Yadena Wolf stood on the steps of the Rose Administration building and urged the campus to press the issue, as administrators looked on.
“We cannot end this discussion,” Wolf said. “We must move forward and encourage one another to be brave.”
On Thursday, U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance announced that her office would be looking into allegations of racial discrimination in Greek organizations. Vance said it appears the university community is trying to transform itself, and she hopes that progress continues.
In a show of support for change, the university’s Student Government Association announced Thursday that block seating at UA’s first home football game would be suspended. Traditionally, the Greek system takes up most of block seating in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
SGA president Jimmy Taylor said he did not want the student body to appear divided or segregated.
“This Saturday is an opportunity for all students to come together with a common goal,” Taylor said. “We can begin by cheering on the Alabama football team together as one University.”
AL.com reporters Ben Flanagan and Melissa Brown contributed to this report.