On Wednesday, the University of Alabama's Crimson White student newspaper reported that one young sorority rushee, a salutatorian with a 4.3 GPA, and connections to the University of Alabama community, was denied entrance to every one of the campus' 16 Panhellenic sororities.
The reason, said Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz, was the color of her skin.
Gotz and several sorority sisters wanted to rush the gifted black girl — who has asked to remain anonymous — but were told by the chapter alumnae that it was not an option. Gotz's blatant question: "Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?" was met with silence during the Alpha Gamma Delta recruitment meeting.
"It was just like the big elephant in the room … so I raised my hand" said Gotz. "People are too scared of what the repercussions are of maybe taking a black girl … That's stupid, but who's going to be the one to make that jump?"
50 years after George Wallace "stood in the schoolhouse door" in an effort to prevent two black students — Vivian Malone Jones, and James Hood — from enrolling in classes at this university, racial segregation persists in the Greek life at Alabama.
There has only been one black woman to pledge a Panhellenic sorority at Alabama and she did so in 2003. Through the efforts of the Crimson White, the candor of Melanie Gotz, and the brave work of other sorority members, a little light has been cast on the blatant racism, which persists among university alums and in the leadership of Alabama sororities.
Chi Omega also attempted to recruit the black girl with the stellar resume. "I know the recruit got perfect scores on the first day," stated an anonymous Chi Omega member. She was also dropped after the first day, apparently at the behest of the sorority advisor. "[She] is the one that dropped her … her name is Emily Jameison." (Jameison denied the decision had anything to do with race).
Upon hearing of the decision to drop the recruit, the philanthropy chair of the same sorority resigned, packed her bags, and left the house. Members of Chi Omega called the national headquarters to investigate whether the decision had been racially motivated.
Delta Delta Delta also attempted to pledge the recruit, but members were forced to submit when alumnae interfered in the voting process. An anonymous member stated, "To my knowledge, the president and the rush chair and our rush advisors were behind this, and if we had been able to pledge her, it would've been an honor" given the student's "excellent scores," influential family, and "awesome resume."
Unfortunately, the alumnae stepped in and "went over [our] heads".
"Not a lot of rushees get awesome scores… [She] got excellent scores. The only thing that kept her back was the color of her skin in Tri Delt. She would have been a dog fight between all the sororities if she were white."
A member of Pi Beta Phi who wished to remain anonymous "confirmed that upon learning that the chapter planned to pledge the same black student recruited by Alpha Gamma Delta and Chi Omega, Pi Beta Phi alumnae threatened to cut financial support if the recruit were to pledge."
The Crimson White contacted the leadership of multiple sororities, most of whom either declined to comment or cited some sort of "policy procedure" which got in the way of the black rushee's pledging process.
Melanie Gotz, the Crimson White, and multiple other active sorority members who were incensed by the alleged cracks in the system, which developed around this girl, called bullshit.
So did John England Jr., circuit judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit and one of three black members on the UA system Board of Trustees. "I made some inquiries and found out there were other black young ladies who were also not accepted through the rush process," England said. "So I have requested the leadership on The University of Alabama and the UA system to find out what's going on."
I'll tell you what's going on, Judge England; overt racism reeks, and that stench is all over this recruitment process, and the Alabama alums who have successfully interfered. Alabama, could it be you haven't outgrown section 5 of the Voting Rights Act after all? Perhaps you'll need some liberal babysitters during your next election cycle. I for one would be happy to start organizing a massive New York bus trip.