Black women have finally been admitted into traditionally white sororities at the University of Alabama, amid new efforts to beat segregation in so-called ‘Greek’ culture at the college.
Four black students and two from other ethnic minorities have accepted invitations to join sororities – which are called ‘Greek’ because they are all named after letters of the Greek alphabet – at the university, university president Judy Bonner announced on Friday.
"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 a video statement. "We will not tolerate anything less."
This historic move followed a hard-hitting report in the campus newspaper, The Crimson White, which alleged that two prospective black members had been passed over for membership of all-white sororities due to pressure from alumnae.
The university is currently marking the 50 anniversary of its first racial integration. Alabama only admitted its first black students in 1963 in highly controversial circumstances; even the governor of the state at the time, George C Wallace protested the enrolment, in an infamous event now known as the ‘Stand in the Schoolhouse Door’.
However, after a hundreds-strong student protest at the university last Wednesday opposing segregation, the pressure finally told.
Bonner has now implemented changes designed to weaken racial barriers. The white sororities are now required to use a recruitment process in which new members can be added at any time, while sororities are now allowed to be larger, to increase chances of diverse recruitment.
"While some sororities are farther along than others, I am encouraged that chapter members are proactively reaching out to a diverse group of young women," she said.
One of the new black sisters, Halle Lindsay, announced on Twitter that she had been accepted, saying ‘This is all so surreal and exciting, I love my sisters already and happy to be an Alpha Gam!’