University of Alabama Greek System Remains Segregated

By Joiner, Lottie | The New Crisis, November/December 2001 | Go to article overview

University of Alabama Greek System Remains Segregated


Joiner, Lottie, The New Crisis


Melody Twilley could be considered a typical student. The Camden, Ala., native from an upper-middle-income family attended a prestigious math and science high school. Now in college, she is an A-student with a 3.87 grade point average and sings first soprano in the campus choir.

Like many other young American women, Willey wanted to join a sorority when she got to college. The talented and academically gifted student seemed to be the perfect candidate for a sorority, an asset to any group.

But Willey attends the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where for the second year in a row, she was rejected by all 15 of the schools historically white sororities. She says there is only one reason.

"I think I was rejected both times because I am African American," says the I8-year-old junior.

The University of Alabama has made tremendous progress in integration since 1963, when staunch segregationist governor George C. Wallace made his famous "stand in the schoolhouse door" to block the enrollment of two Black students. But despite the university's strides in diversifying its student body, its Greek system remains racially segregated.

Segregated Greek-letter organizations have recently raised concerns at other Southern universities as well. At Auburn University, 15 members of the Beta Theta Pi and Delta Sigma Phi fraternities were suspended from school (and the university no longer recognizes the two fraternities) after photographs of students at a Halloween party masquerading in blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes surfaced. One student in blackface had a noose around his neck, and other members wore shirts emblazoned with the Greek letters Omega Psi Phi, a traditionally Black fraternity.

Similarly, members of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at the University of Louisville in Kentucky also dressed in blackface on Halloween. The school's disciplinary review panel suspended some of the fraternity's priveleges.

In yet another incident, Halloween photographs appeared at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, in which two members of the white fraternity Alpha Tau Omega wore racially offensive costumes. …

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