The University of Alabama recently experienced a flood of negative press about its racially segregated sorority system, which hasn’t seen a black student accepted into one of its historically white sororities for decades. This phenomenon is allegedly due to the influence of alumnae of the organizations, many of who undoubtedly came of age during the University’s “Segregation Forever!” era, who have been preventing current chapter members from offering bids to black applicants, even ones who garner broad support. After years of the campus paper The Crimson White running stories on the issue, a movement from within the sororities’ ranks finally moved the campus administration to action, with one member of a prominent sorority speaking out to the press and another resigning from her sorority due to the discrimination. In an emergency meeting, campus administration and sorority have set up a second round bid process which will allow sororities to extend bids to desired applicants that were not accepted in the first round. It’s encouraging, even if it is a one time band-aid solution.
In response to this action, many people have asked: Why? Why are these black women fighting to be part of Greek life, a system that, from racial discrimination, to lethal hazing, to rape culture, is clearly a flawed institution? Isn’t better to just let these organizations go on in ignorance until they discriminate themselves into irrelevance? As one internet commenter put it “I hope that these women who rushed these sororities only felt the sting of rejection for just a few moments, then realized how much better off they actually are without that membership.” I’m a sorority girl, and I’ll tell you why they are fighting- because access to flawed systems still matters.
Me and some of my chapter members at graduation