Six minority students have accepted bids to join sororities at the University of Alabama, nearly two weeks after some stepped forward and accused the university's Greek system of being segregated.
University President Judy Bonner said in a video message that the university had begun a process known as "continuous open bidding," during which time the 16 campus sororities may give students bids, or invitations, to join the chapter at any point in the school year. On Sept. 20, Bonner said 72 bids had been issued after one week of the bidding process, 11 of which went to African-American students, and three of which went to other minority students. As of Friday, four African-American students and two other minority students had accepted their bids.
"I am confident that we will achieve our objective of a Greek system that is inclusive, accessible and welcoming to students of all races and ethnicities," Bonner said in the video. "We will not tolerate anything less."
The university came under scrutiny on Sept. 11 when the student newspaper, The Crimson White, published a story in which several active sorority members accused their chapters of discriminating against potential new members based on their race. One student in particular, the granddaughter of Alabama Circuit Judge John England Jr., who sits on the university's board of trustees, was described as an ideal candidate, but was denied acceptance from every sorority.
The sorority members faulted their alumnae and chapter advisers for pressuring them not to accept students of other races.
"People are too scared of what the repercussions are of maybe taking a black girl," said Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz, according to The Crimson 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."
Shortly after, Bonner met with the campus's sorority advisers and asked them to investigate whether the claims of racial discrimination were true, and what could be done to remedy the situation.
"We are taking the steps necessary to make systemic and lasting change," Bonner said in the video. "We will continue to make progress, we will do the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way."