University of Alabama trying to promote diversity in Greek life

Sept. 13, 2013 at 9:36 PM
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Sept. 13 (UPI) -- The University of Alabama has asked its sororities to look into their pledging practices after several black students were allegedly barred from pledging.

Alabama Circuit Judge John England Jr., who also sits on the university's board of trustees, said his step-granddaughter, an African-American freshman at the school, was not asked to join any sorority because she is black, USA Today reported.

The issue came to light when a friend of England's step-granddaughter spoke with a reporter at the The Crimson White, a campus publication, about the girl's situation.

"She apparently went through this rush and when she did not make it, they (the friends) were surprised and ultimately I think were upset about that," England said.

The Crimson White then reported that two black students, including the judge's step-granddaughter, had been barred from pledging primarily white sororities on campus. In the judge's step-granddaughter's case, an alumna active with a sorority on campus said the student had not met requirements for recommendations.

England said he has reached out to school officials and national chapters of sororities to resolve the issue.

"I know there are people who still live in the '50s and '40s, but faculty, members of the Board of Trustees, the chancellor, the president -- I know because I've had conversations with them -- I know that they support the notion that no student should be denied admission to any organization based on race," England said.

The school is also working to promote diversity within its Greek life.

"UA is working with our local chapters and their national organizations to remove any barriers that prevent young women (both the prospective new members and the chapter members) from making the choices they want to make," read an emailed statement from Deborah Lane, the school's associate vice president for university relations.

"The University administration, the members of our local chapters and the vast majority of our alumni fully believe that this is the right time to do the right thing, and we are committed to ensuring that all students have access to and can choose from multiple opportunities that match their personal interests and goals," the emailed statement read.

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