The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

September 17, 2013

UA president: Sorority decisions based on race

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.

The Faculty Senate scheduled a meeting for Tuesday afternoon to consider a statement asking administrators to take further steps against campus racism.

Donna Meester, vice president of the Senate, said the group planned to address sorority recruitment and sorority involvement in a recent city election in which some sorority members allegedly received free alcohol in exchange for voting for certain school board candidates.

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