Black Student Gets Bid to White Sorority at University of Alabama
A Black student at the University of Alabama accepted a bid to a traditionally White sorority last month, a rare case in which the longstanding racial exclusivity of the campus Greek social system has been broken.
Carla Ferguson, a freshman from Tuscaloosa, was the only Black woman to participate in the weeklong recruitment activities. She and 28 other pledges were offered membership in Gamma Phi Beta sorority.
Administrators and faculty leaders have pushed for integration of the school’s fraternities and sororities.
“I would say it’s the important first step that the faculty’s been looking for,” says Dr. Norm Baldwin, a political science professor and longtime advocate of Greek integration. “I have no doubt that lots of faculty are extremely pleased with the step that Gamma Phi Beta’s taken.”
Heather Schacht, president of the university’s Panhellenic Association, said Ferguson’s bid shows efforts to recruit minorities have been successful.
“Now that someone has taken that (first) step, it’ll be easier for others to take that step,” Schacht told the Crimson White student newspaper.
Two years ago, a woman describing herself as half-Black said she had broken the color barrier at Alabama by joining Gamma Phi Beta. Christina Houston received a bid to join the organization in 2000 but didn’t receive much media attention until 2001, when a Black woman participated in rush but didn’t get a bid. Houston and Greek leaders said the sorority knew of her mixed race background before inviting her to join, though she eventually stopped active membership in the group.
Baldwin said faculty members would like to see all Greeks recruit at the same time, with White students visiting Black groups and vice versa.
— Associated Press
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