U. of Alabama president calls for changes in sorority system

Sept. 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- University of Alabama President Judy Bonner ordered changes in the school's sorority system Wednesday, admitting some organizations remain segregated.

After a closed-door meeting with sorority representatives Sunday, the school took the unusual step of reopening the sorority recruiting process, which normally closes in August, before the fall semester begins. It also permitted sororities to increase their membership to 360 each, to provide more opportunities for prospective members, the Alabama news website al.com reported.

The actions followed allegations in the school's student newspaper, the Crimson White, Sept. 11 that two black students had been barred from pledging primarily white sororities on campus.

In a video message released Wednesday, Bonner admitted some Greek organizations remain segregated and some sororities made membership decision "based on race." She also noted media interest in the controversy, saying, "The eyes of the nation are once again on the University of Alabama" 50 years after Gov. George Wallace stood in a school doorway and blocked the path of two incoming black students.

A protest march by students, calling attention to the alleged segregation of sororities and called the "Final Stand at the Schoolhouse Doors," took place on campus Wednesday.

During a question-and-answer period after a speech she gave to the Huntsville Rotary Club, Bonner said she thinks students "are ready if we give them time and space" to diversify the Greek system.

"They are going to reach out to their friends and ask them to be their sisters. I think the young people today have grown up in a diverse world," she added. "I want to empower them to make the changes that are needed."

During her appearance at the Rotary club meeting, Bonner offered no specific plan to accomplish integration in the school's Greek system, the newspaper said.

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