An open letter to our administration

Inspired by the bravery of the greek women who decided that our status quo is no longer acceptable, we, the concerned students and faculty of UA, demand immediate, sustained and transparent support from our leadership, the administration, including the president, to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

By appealing to conscience and standing on the moral nature of human existence, we see the following steps not as requests but as moral imperatives that our administration, led by President Judy Bonner, must immediately undertake:

1. Publicly, transparently, and directly acknowledge that our greek institutions are largely segregated and that this segregation is, by its very nature, racist;

2. Publicly demonstrate that this racism will not be tolerated through the following actions:

A. Immediately adjust current Greek Affairs regulations so the women of the greek system who are ready and willing to welcome sisters of diverse races and backgrounds into their homes may do so;

B. Actively implement protection for these women who have been bullied, intimidated or otherwise coerced by alumni members into believing that it is unacceptable to welcome women of color into their sisterhood;

C. Transparently demonstrate that this intimidation is unacceptable by severing all ties with greek alumni members who perpetuate this continuing segregation, including the dismissal of the director of president’s and chancellor’s events, Emily Jamison, who serves as the Chi Omega recruitment advisor;

D. Actively teach students the importance of the commitment to diversity through investing in required diversity education, developed through continued discussion with the students who already have demonstrated their commitment to this cause;

E. Rigorously implement regulations through the Office of Greek Affairs, which will work to create a more inclusive and diverse experience for our students, including, but not limited to, a formalized recruitment process for both sororities and fraternities, which is delayed and limited to the spring semester, thus offering students the opportunity to become involved with activities across campus;

F. Require that all greek organizations adopt and implement transparent, non-discriminatory practices in their recruitment processes, otherwise revoke the leases of greek housing, which are held by the University, thus publicly held by the people of the state of Alabama.

We expect that from these immediate actions, a long-term, continued commitment to improving the state of racial justice on campus will develop. We believe the student body is eager to learn about, work toward and directly confront the current racial politics of our campus. We are eager to turn our campus into a shining example for not only our state or the South, but the entire nation.

You have recruited the best and brightest. Walk with us as we march together holding a torch of equity and justice as a beacon of light for which we can all be proud.

With hopes of immediate action, respectfully signed,

Concerned Students and Faculty

Ross Green represents the group of concerned students and faculty. They can be reached at standintheschoolhousedoor@gmail.com.

 

  • Asher Elbein

    So say we all.

  • Anne R Gibbons

    Thank you.

  • John Earl

    Will the Administration continue to cower before the mighty Machine that gives all Greeks a bad name?
    http://ttowntruthseeker.com/2013/09/14/all-greek-all-the-time/

  • DrumminD21311

    “Dear concerned student,

    We are sorry to hear you have concerns. We are not presently aware of any racism on campus. We will do everything we can to address the issues you mentioned. However, please note that because sororities are independent organizations, we have little control over their actions.

    -President Judy Bonner”

  • Dropping_Facts

    Listen, I think its past time that greek organizations integrate black candidates that fit in with that culture and I must put out there that I was not greek in college. That said, I take issue with some of the particulars of this letter.

    “1. Publicly, transparently, and directly acknowledge that our greek
    institutions are largely segregated and that this segregation is, by its
    very nature, racist;”

    Please learn the definition of racist. Are we really going to pretend that there is anything but a miniscule percentage of black women on campus that share a lot in common with white sorority girls? The segregation for the most part has been based on culture. That is not “by its nature” racist because that doesnt fit with the actual definition of racist.

    “A. Immediately adjust current Greek Affairs regulations so the women of
    the greek system who are ready and willing to welcome sisters of diverse
    races and backgrounds into their homes may do so;”

    Private organization

    D. Actively teach students the importance of the commitment to diversity
    through investing in required diversity education, developed through
    continued discussion with the students who already have demonstrated
    their commitment to this cause;

    Private organization

    “C. Transparently demonstrate that this intimidation is unacceptable by
    severing all ties with greek alumni members who perpetuate this
    continuing segregation, including the dismissal of the director of
    president’s and chancellor’s events, Emily Jamison, who serves as the
    Chi Omega recruitment advisor;”

    Private organization

    D. Actively teach students the importance of the commitment to diversity
    through investing in required diversity education, developed through
    continued discussion with the students who already have demonstrated
    their commitment to this cause;

    Must be university wide or cant be done because greeks are you guessed it…private organizations. While we are at it can we teach liberals the value of diverse political opinions. They seem to be rather intolerant of any opinions other than their own.

    “E. Rigorously implement regulations through the Office of Greek Affairs,
    which will work to create a more inclusive and diverse experience for
    our students, including, but not limited to, a formalized recruitment
    process for both sororities and fraternities, which is delayed and
    limited to the spring semester, thus offering students the opportunity
    to become involved with activities across campus;”

    The University doesnt have that authority.

    “F. Require that all greek organizations adopt and implement transparent,
    non-discriminatory practices in their recruitment processes, otherwise
    revoke the leases of greek housing, which are held by the University,
    thus publicly held by the people of the state of Alabama.”

    This is just ridiculous.

    There is no need for the University to get involved in this issue. Sure, there should be a civil, public debate about this without ridiculous demands and accusations. These organizations should receive shame for denying a student based solely on the color of that person’s skin(when otherwise they are a good fit for the organization). That said, they are private organizations and should be able to operate as they please

    • Brad Erthal

      I’m curious why you think that F is ridiculous. Is it because you don’t think there ought to be transparency in the recruitment process, or because you don’t think it’s feasible to force implementation?

      And I think that you dramatically underestimate the power of UA over the fraternities and sororities on this campus. The school has both some formal power to regulate the actions of these bodies, but more importantly, it has a great deal of leverage by using those formal powers to negotiate terms with these organizations, especially under circumstances in which they are, for instance, leasing very valuable land from the university.

      • Dropping_Facts

        “I’m curious why you think that F is ridiculous. Is it because you don’t
        think there ought to be transparency in the recruitment process, or
        because you don’t think it’s feasible to force implementation?”

        Its ridiculous because this is not a matter that involves academics. It involves private organizations running their organization how they see fit. These are not state funded organizations and the University should not be telling these organizations how to run their own business. If the University wants an all inclusive club, they can create one themselves like another poster suggested.

        • Michelle Fuentes

          “The leases of greek housing, which are held by the University, thus publicly held by the people of the state of Alabama.” The land which the houses stand on are owned by the university (aka state) and leased to the organizations at $1 a year, thus making them funded by the state.

    • DrumminD21311

      Stop being racist.

      • David Puddy

        everything is ‘racist’ to a racist.

        • DrumminD21311

          If that’s true, I guess you have a fairly good understanding of racism, considering the fact that you’re a major racist.

          • David Puddy

            ^^^^example^^^^

          • DrumminD21311

            Racist says what?

    • mdaw

      “Are we really going to pretend that there is anything but a miniscule percentage of black women on campus that share a lot in common with white sorority girls?”

      This is, without a doubt, one of the more “racist” statements uttered on this topic within the past week…..about “black women on campus” AND about “white sorority ‘girls’ “.

      I am guessing you happily hang with a pretty homogeneous group.

      • Dropping_Facts

        “This is, without a doubt, one of the more “racist” statements uttered on this topic within the past week…..about “black women on campus” AND about “white sorority ‘girls’ “.

        Why make a valid argument when you can cry RACIST RACIST RACIST! Its too bad you have no idea what the word racist means.

        “I am guessing you happily hang with a pretty homogeneous group.”

        Normally I ignore garbage like this but it seems every liberal on this site likes to bring this up against me. I would bet everything I have that I have carried on with a more diverse group of people in my life than EVERY liberal on this site. Yall’s one semester of study abroad in Spain or Italy seems to have really gone to yall’s heads. But go on and pretend like your shendigs at Starbucks with your other lily white liberal friends counts as diversity.

        • mdaw

          Sorry….wrong again. My immediate family is multiracial.

          • Dropping_Facts

            The problem is that you liberals see diversity only through the lenses of race. You pay no attention to culture and absolutely no attention to diversity of knowledge and opinion. You might think that your black brother-in-law gives you some ivory tower to stand on but it doesn’t.

          • mdaw

            Sorry…wrong again…MORE immediate than that!

          • mdaw

            Oh and my major many long years ago was cultural anthropology.

        • tdigital2979

          Ok fine, let’s say you’re not racist. However, you may have a bias that is influencing your thought pattern. Anyway, I want to argue with you about your point that you made several times about private organizations. UA interacts with private organizations all the time and influences their activities. UA has the power to affect the activities of Greek organizations due to certain things these organizations rely on UA for such as land and other cooperation that is critical to the private organization’s activities at this University. Therefore, why would you consider the private organization argument a reason for no intervention rather than just select intervention?

        • Brad Erthal

          I love this slam that only liberals drink lattes. A few years ago, it was that we were the only ones who ate brie (which is delicious, but apparently self-identified conservatives actually bought more). It’s just so weird. I mean, there are people on the political left who buy luxury goods. There are also a lot of people on the right who buy them too.

          It’s hard to generalize about which side of the political spectrum has the most people who we should think of as “wealthy”, because there isn’t a monotonic shift in politics as income increases. However, it is safe to say that the Republican Party has its share of latte drinkers, and certainly has its share of lily white people.

          I mean, for God’s sake, the last Republican President went to Andover (where he was a CHEERLEADER) and Yale. His father had held several political offices. And let’s not even start on Mitt Romney. How selective is your memory?

        • Marley

          You say “why make a valid argument when you can cry racist” but I see quite a lot of dismissal by crying “liberals!” in these comments.

    • Edward50

      The University holds their leases. By allowing them to exist on University property, the University is sanctioning their behavior.

    • OlPossum

      It is long past time to stop pretending these are private organizations. These are nonprofit organizations that receive considerable benefits from their tax-exempt status. If they are unwilling to conform to the legal requirements governing tax-exempt organizations all over this country, pull their exemptions. These are also organizations residing in public housing, at minimal cost and with considerable benefits. Where else in Alabama (or this country) it is legally permissible to racially discriminate in public housing? If they are unwilling to involve themselves in activities with people who don’t look like them, let them find some little shack out in the country where they can drink and frolic with each other. These are also member organizations of national fraternities and sororities, all of which have strong national policies against discrimination. If they don’t want to conform to these policies, pull their charters. Witt was a coward when he declared these to be private organizations who could discriminate at will. Fortunately, most of the students in most of these organizations [maybe all] have much better moral compasses than the adults who are their nominal leaders and advisors. And for those who don’t, cut them loose and cut off all their “private” benefits.

  • David Puddy

    LOL…. pure comedy.

  • David Puddy

    Easy solution…. Start some non-private sororities that will take ANY member without voting on them. Open them up to anyone who wants to join!!! Problem solved……Now go find something else to whine and cry about!!!

  • Stacy Morgan

    This is a well thought-out and concrete set of points that UA administration would do well to act upon–and sooner rather than later. Keep up the good work Crimson White.

  • noblekinsman

    I don’t see anything “brave” about the women who spoke to the Crimson White about their sorority’s racist practices. As I understand, they continue to pay their fees. And the potential “victory” that may emerge – black women can ALSO participate in the vapid system of nepotistic conformist training – seems so awfully dismal. And the letter sounds like it was written by that vampire-killing church in True Blood.

  • Alise Latta

    I worried that our administration would offer up a hurried quick-fix before local media could really take hold of this story (which is essentially all admin. can do, as the problem is derived from individual people OF the Greek system rather than from the system itself); but Wednesday’s demonstration will allow for the student body to initiate change, which I feel is crucial to the success of said change. It will cause administration to become a secondary party, to respond TO the student body and act as reinforcement, rather than obligatorily assuming the roll of what is essentially “mommy”, slapping wrists and all. Rather than putting flippant hope into a blind line-leader filled with carefully crafted intentions and vigorous but empty actions, we can prove to corrupt alumni that we as a student body possess the drive, the ethics, and the boldness to truly take charge of not only our future but our present, and not only claim our own selves, but our own damned school. This is right. This is good.

  • JuicyBrucey

    The greek system is segregated by race. That is just an undeniable fact if you just look at the white/black ratios of the University of Alabama general student body versus participation in the white greek system. While black students are 12% of the UA population (from what I read in your student newspaper) I’m sure that blacks probably represent 0.001% of the members of the white greek system. Sororities and fraternities exist at the university only because they are permitted to exist on taxpayer subsidized land. These groups are not private clubs and cannot exclude people that are not white enough for their liking because everyone (including minorities) pay money to support their activities. The university has a right to regulate their admissions activities in any way they see fit. If they don’t like it then they can move off campus or refuse university rent subsidies and plant a whites only sign in their front yard.

    I’m a light skinned mixed race person (blacks called me white, whites called me black) that rushed and eventually was initiated a brother at the Pike house at the University of Florida way back in 1979. The racist crap I endured from only a few brothers during my pledge period eventually drove me to leave UF and finish my education elsewhere. I still have frat brothers that I keep in contact with but I often feel that anger and bile in my throat when I remember my experiences from that time. Racism existed, still exists, although far less, and will exist in the future. Fortunately, more and more people, have other races mixing into their gene pool. Eventually tolerance and understanding will become the norm when everyone has some non-white portion in their ancestry; it just won’t happen in my lifetime.