The University of Alabama has long been a huge source of pride for the state with its long history of tradition and athletic excellence. I’m not a fan of American football, but the two names from collegiate football I never forget are Bear Bryant and Nick Saban. For a long time, however, something has been lurking in the shadows of the trophies and tailgaters. In early September 2013, the exclusion of black females from sororities on campus was brought to light by the school’s newspaper, the Crimson White. The paper reported that these sororities were threatened by alumnae with the loss of major funding if they didn’t turn away these girls. Sorority member Melanie Gotz of Alpha Gamma Delta came forward, saying that their sorority had been specifically instructed to not allow a black student with exceptional qualifications in despite members standing up for her. She even remarked that they “were just powerless over the alums.”
This is deeply bothersome to me. I suppose it would be ignorant to think that there’s complete racial equality in everything that goes on in American universities, but to have something this blatant occur is downright embarrassing. Segregation ended fifty years ago– not that it was even acceptable then– and there are still issues? There’s also the matter of this secretive coalition of fraternities and sororities who call themselves “The Machine” and exercise massive influence over the Student Government Association. A secretive organization that promotes strict racial segregation and is anti-minority? Sounds a bit neo-KKK in my opinion.
While the allegation and facts are disturbing, I must say this: I love the fact that the scandal was first brought to light by their own newspaper. For a university that seems to have lived in an isolationist bubble for so long, the breaking of the news from within their grounds is ironic. I also admire that students of the university took it upon themselves to march in protest against the segregation, holding signs that read “THE FINAL STAND IN THE SCHOOLHOUSE DOOR.” These refer to Governor George Wallace standing in front of the entrance of Foster Auditorium, prepared to prevent the first Black students from enrolling in 1963. While the older generation of supporters at the University of Alabama may refuse to evolve, the newest wave of students will continue to push ahead into the future.
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur, its staff or Rollins College.