(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) — The University of Alabama president admitted in a video Tuesday that the school’s sororities made membership decisions based on race and called for “systemic and profound changes.”
Dr. Judy Bonner’s statement came less than a week after a student newspaper made allegations that sororities blocked two black women from pledging.
“Our Greek system remains segregated and chapter members admit that during the recruitment process that ended a few weeks ago, decisions were made based on race,” Bonner said in a video posted Tuesday.
She said the office of the president and the office of student affairs began working with both local and national sorority chapters before the formal recruitment period ended to determine what the barriers were and to develop a plan to “help the Greek system embrace the diversity that is represented at the University of Alabama.”
Bonner enacted a new policy that opens a continuous bidding process to every student and every sorority so that new members can be added at any time. “While we will not tell any group who they must pledge, the University of Alabama will not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” she said. “The chapter members are ready to move forward. The University of Alabama will support them in every way possible. We will work extremely hard to remove any barriers that they perceive.”
The school’s sororities came under fire last week when an article in The Crimson White said the “UA Greek system is still almost completely divided along racial lines” and that the two women “tried to break what remains an almost impenetrable color barrier.”
The story claimed that none of the school’s 16 Panhellenic organizations offered a bid to pledge two black women, with some alumni allegedly stepping in to block them. A member of one sorority told the paper alumnae threatened to cut financial support after learning that the chapter planned to pledge one of the black students.
At least two University of Alabama sororities — Alpha Gamma Delta and Pi Beta Phi — told ABC News they were investigating the allegations. Neither sorority immediately responded to requests for comment on the president’s statement Tuesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Stephanie Elam, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN
Erin McClam, CNN