Got Delta Delta Delta looking like Dixie Dixie Dixie… We knew change was slow to come in Deep South states like Alabama and Mississippi but this is just ridiculous!
The first rule of rush is you don't talk about segregation to media. The second rule of rush is you don't talk about segregation to media.
— The Machine (@TheUAMachine) September 11, 2013
The University of Alabama Panhellenic Association has come under fire after The Crimson White, a student paper, published an exposé alleging that at least four sorority chapters denied a black woman a bid simply because of her race.
Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz told the paper that the woman — who chose to remain anonymous — was not properly considered for membership by the chapter, despite being sorority girl gold: a high school salutatorian with a 4.3 GPA, a member of a well-respected family active in public service, and a student with direct ties to the school.
Gotz says she asked her sorority sisters, “Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?”
Apparently, other chapters were not willing to discuss it either, according to interviews with three other houses cited by The Crimson White. The paper’s thorough investigation offers an inside look at what appears to be a legacy of racism that seems to stem less from the students than from their older advisers. Indeed, the members interviewed had nearly uniform answers: The student in question received high scores but was apparently dropped due to pressure from sorority alumnae or rush advisers.
Total Frat Move (TFM), a online hub for the fraternity and sorority world, claims it spoke to almost two dozen Alabama sorority members, who echoed the allegations printed in The Crimson White. Some claimed that alumnae threatened to cut off funding to their houses if they accepted a black recruit.
“Girls from other schools may not have as intense of a rush as we have here, alums are big $$$ providers….I mean ‘decision makers,'” one reportedly said.
Pi Beta Phi grand president Paula Shepherd wrote in an email to USA Today that “Pi Beta Phi leadership has begun an investigation of the allegations 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 [all sic].”
While sororities and fraternity members don’t comprise the majority of the UA population — they account for about one quarter of students — the Greek community is a powerful presence on campus. Common knowledge among students holds that members of this population will exert a disproportionate influence over the school via “The Machine,” a coalition of 28 white fraternities and sororities at UA, according to a 2011 article in The Crimson White.
Apparently, The Machine is a long-established, enigmatic, force at UA, well-known for handpicking most student body presidents, UA professor Bill Stewart told the Tuscaloosa Times. (Earlier this year, John Archibald, a former UA student, described the Machine’s impressive power over school and Alabama politics: “The Machine is real, and it is timeless.”)
It’s worth nothing that only one black woman has ever received a bid to a traditionally white sorority at UA, according to a 2003 article published by the Tuscaloosa News. What will it take to change this? It seems like alumni should not be able to keep the times from changing…