Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said today that the University of Alabama Greek system was wrong to reject members based on the color of their skin.
Bentley was reacting to a student newspaper article published Wednesday morning by The Crimson White titled "The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists."
In the article, The Crimson White reports two sororities were ready to vote for the same African American recruit for membership but were denied an opportunity by pressure from alumni.
The CW article quoted a Tri Delta member as saying the only thing that kept the recruit from getting a bid from her sorority was the color of her skin.
"She would have been a dog fight between all the sororities if she were white," the Tri Delta sorority member said in the article.
Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz said in the story it was her sorority's alumni who interfered in the recruitment process, and openly questioned in her sorority chapter room why no one would talk about the elephant in the room.
"People are too scared of what the repercussions are of maybe taking a black girl," Gotz said in the Crimson and White. "That's stupid, but who's going to be the one to make that jump? How much longer is it going to take till we have a black girl in a sorority? It's been years, and it hasn't happened."
Governor Bentley (a University of Alabama graduate) said Thursday while in Hoover that the person's inclusion on a sorority shouldn't be based on their skin color.
"I believe if it's up to the students, students are for that. They are for selecting the best person. I am too. I think that is absurd that you don't select the best person and that you would ever discriminate against anyone because of the color of their skin," Bentley said.
Bentley read the news account of the story Wednesday night.
"I asked my wife about it last night. She said it's not the students but the alumni…Personally I think they need to change their attitude," Bentley said.
Fox6 News asked the governor what he could do to force the integration of the UA Greek system?
"These are private organizations and the university only allows them to lease space on the campus. I think the universities can put pressure on it. I can speak out against it. I just believe you can choose someone on their character, on their qualities and it should have nothing to do with the color of their skin," Bentley said.
Stephannie Bailey, Executive Director of Alpha Gamma Delta National, released the following statement:
"At Alpha Gamma Delta, we have strong, clear policy against discrimination. We instill that in all of our chapters for all they do, including recruitment. If there's a question as to whether that policy has been violated, we take it seriously, investigate and intervene appropriately. We're in the business of education, and part of our role is to help young women embrace positive relationships with people from all kinds of backgrounds. That is and will remain not only our international organization's goal, but also our individual chapters' goal — at the University of Alabama and at all the universities and communities we serve throughout the country.
An investigation team is actively looking into this situation to determine whether policy has been violated. "
Bill McDaniel, Director of Broadcast Media Relations for the University of Alabama, also issued this statement on the situation:
"The University of Alabama administration, the members of our local chapters and the vast majority of our alumni fully believe this is the right time to do the right thing. We are committed to ensuring all students have access to and can choose from multiple opportunities that match their personal interests and goals. 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.
The national organizations determine their own membership selection processes and expect their members to follow their procedures during recruitment. The national organizations also select and supervise the chapters' alumnae advisors."
Chi Omega National Headquarters issued this statement:
"The Executive Headquarters is aware of reports about recruitment at the University of Alabama. Chi Omega takes all issues that are reported seriously, and we are continuing to work with the chapter leadership. Chi Omega embraces Sisters from different ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds who live and reflect our values and purposes."
Pi Beta Phi UA President Livia Guadagnoli issued this statement regarding the discrimination allegations:
"The issues of cultural and racial insensitivity at the University of Alabama in recent days is both troubling and saddening. Pi Beta Phi proudly accepts women of diverse races and ethnicities into membership. We are hopeful, that in the weeks to come, our collegiate members and our advisors will lead the way in becoming a part of the solution to the problems at the University of Alabama.
Pi Beta Phi leadership is taking this matter very seriously and has begun looking into the allegations cited in The Crimson White article. If any of those allegations are found to be true, those members, alumna or collegiate, will be held accountable for their actions. Pi Beta Phi Fraternity does not discriminate in its membership selection practices on the basis of race, religious affiliation, national origin, handicapped status or sexual orientation. Nor, will Pi Beta Phi tolerate such discrimination by its members."
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