CW / Hannah Saad
Zeta Tau Alpha’s national leadership eliminated its legacy policy, a practice that gave the family of former sorority members preferential consideration during the recruitment process. Last week, Zeta Tau Alpha joined 12 other sororities on campus that have ended this practice.
The policy change is an attempt to diversify chapter membership and increase the number of women of color within sororities. Delta Gamma changed its policy nationwide in June 2020, citing the influence that institutional racism has had on the sorority.
Delta Gamma’s statement discussed the lack of inclusivity for women of color when sororities first began. The organization said it’s important to provide access to students whose family members couldn’t rush a sorority.
“We know that sororities were built during a time in our country’s history when women were just being invited to attend colleges and universities for the first time,” Delta Gamma’s statement said. “While this was a big step, it was not inclusive of all women and was limited to those who were white at most colleges and universities. Because of that, the rituals and practices of sororities were built upon white ideals and perspectives.”
Sororities at the University were segregated until 2013.
In 2019, there were 6,472 white sorority members in the Alabama Panhellenic Association’s 19 chapters. The same year, there were 88 Black members. Asian American, Native American and immigrant students were the least represented within the APA.
Zeta Tau Alpha’s national statement said the decision to eliminate legacies followed “years of study, conversation and data collection.” The Zeta National Council started the process in 2017 with a comprehensive review of the policy.
“A potential new member is welcome to indicate that she is a legacy of Zeta Tau Alpha when registering for recruitment,” according to the organization’s website. “However, she will not receive preferential treatment during the membership selection process.”
More sorority members called for a policy change last year after the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police in Minneapolis.
Alpha Omicron Pi was one of the first sororities to nationally respond to the increased pressure for diversity. The organization announced in June 2020 that it would no longer give preferential consideration to legacies.
“These past few weeks have been tough for us all,” the statement said. “It’s been even harder for our Black sisters. On top of state and provincial closures and a public health emergency, the US faced another affront on the Black community, which sparked an outcry for change in the way systemic and institutional racism is addressed. We know these conversations are emotionally and mentally challenging, but they are necessary.”
Some sororities’ new legacy policies still allow potential new members to denote their legacy status, but the organizations claim they will not receive preferential treatment during the recruitment process.
Other sororities at the University that have eliminated their legacy policies include Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Delta, Phi Mu, Pi Beta Phi, Tri Delta and Sigma Kappa.
The Alabama Panhellenic Association declined to comment. The University’s Division of Strategic Communications did not respond in time for publication.