Mallet hosts forum on campus discrimination

Mark Hammontree

The Mallet Assembly hosted a public forum Wednesday night in Palmer Hall to discuss the response of The University of Alabama administration and the SGA in the wake of allegations of systemic discrimination in the greek system.

Wednesday morning a large number of Malleteers were present for the Stand in the Schoolhouse Door 2013 march. Bright blue Mallet T-shirts stood out among the crowd as students and faculty walked from the steps of Gorgas Library to stand together in front of Rose Administration Building.

Malleteers gathered with other students and faculty members Wednesday night to reflect on the day’s events and to decide what actions the group can take in the future to continue to press for an end to discrimination on campus.

One of the issues discussed was the apparent lack of turnout of the greek population at both the morning’s protest and the forum itself.

“We need greeks involved in this conversation,” one Malleteer said to the group.

Various ideas about how to continue towards an end to discrimination were suggested by students in attendance, including appealing to the national organizations of greek houses, as well as continue to pressure the administration to take specific action to address the problem.

“We’ve got several contacts with media outlets, so we can definitely keep the pressure on them,” Henry Perkins said.

Brian Fair, a UA law professor who specializes in discrimination and constitutional law, was also in attendance and commended the leadership of Mallet students during the protest but also throughout UA’s history. Fair said the greek community on campus has a long history of turning students away for more than just their race.

“I’ve been here long enough to see many students turned away from greek organizations for discriminatory reasons,” Fair said to the students.

Fair also questioned the leadership of the administration and suggested that the University has put a lot of time and money into promoting the greek organizations, yet the administration has said that they cannot control their membership practices. Fair said that these organizations are essentially housing communities paid for by the University, yet they remain segregated.

“Y’all may be the most integrated housing community on campus,” Fair said. “Why aren’t you living in one of those mansions?”

The students in attendance also discussed the decision of the SGA to suspend block seating for the first home game of the season.

Isaac Bell, president of Mallet Assembly, said he thought the decision was an interesting one that would show whether or not SGA President Jimmy Taylor was willing to stay true to his promise to listen to the concerns and ideas of students.

“It will be a really interesting test for him,” Bell said.

While some of the students suggested that the decision was just a public relations action and a “Band-Aid” solution to the issue, others thought that the fully open seating would present a great opportunity for students to sit with those in different groups.

“This could be a powerful show of intermingling among student groups,” a Malleteer said.

Another student disagreed and said Taylor’s claim that the suspension of block seating would allow students to unite over football was an admission that the system of block seating itself perpetuated the segregation of greek organizations.

“It implies that block seating encourages segregation,” the student said. “So to go back to it after one game would be to say that segregation is okay.”