Fifty years after Gov. George Wallace “stood in the schoolhouse door” in an effort to prevent Vivian Malone Jones, Dave McGlathery and James Hood from enrolling in classes at the University of Alabama, The Crimson Whitereports that the school’s Greek system remains rigidly segregated.
“Are we really not going to talk about the black girl?” asked Melanie Gotz, an Alpha Gamma Delta member. She was speaking in reference to an anonymous black recruit with who didn’t receive a bid from any of the Panhellenic sororities, despite having graduated as salutatorian of her class with a 4.3 GPA, and having deep roots in the University of Alabama community.
The recruit was denied, Gotz told The Crimson White, by the chapter’s alumnae on account of a technicality: she failed to provide the exact number of letters of recommendations required. Active members in the sorority protested the denial, but were shot down by alumnae.
“It was just so cool to see everyone willing to take this next step and be the sorority that took a black girl and not care,” Gotz said. “The entire house wanted this girl to be in Alpha Gam. We were just powerless over the alums.”
Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae defended their decision to eliminate this near-perfect candidate in the first round by defending the sanctity of rush procedures: “It wasn’t anything to do with someone. It was policy procedure, and if anything, we have to follow policy and procedure with our nationals,” said Karen Keene. “That’s all I can say.”
However, there has still only been one black woman to formally pledge a Panhellic sorority at Alabama, and she did so in 2003. Raw Storycontacted Gamma Phi Beta, the sorority that allowed that black student to pledge, but was told that it would not comment “for fear it might embarrass some of the other Greek organizations.”