The University of Alabama is tackling segregation in its Greek system, a problem the university president acknowledged exists.
According to The Associated Press, President Judy Bonner mandated that sororities belonging to a campus association composed of white sororities begin using a recruitment process in which new members can be added at any time, and she expanded the maximum allowable size of the groups to 360 people to increase the chances for prospective members.
Bonner, in a video statement released by the university, said people are watching Alabama just as they did when it admitted its first black students five decades ago.
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"This time it is because 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," she said.
Bonner said "systemic and profound changes" were required for graduates to compete globally.
"While we will not tell any group who they must pledge, the University of Alabama will not tolerate discrimination of any kind," said Bonner, who became the university's first female president less than a year ago.
Bonner enacted the new policy Monday just days after the student newspaper, The Crimson White, detailed allegations that alumnae of some all-white sororities had blocked chapters from adding two black students as new members in August, when the university announced 1,896 new sorority members.
Members of the Faculty Senate, meeting after Bonner's statement was issued, said the new rush rules were a step in the right direction, but many said more action was needed to eradicate racism in Greek-letter groups.
Language and classics teacher Sierra R. Turner, a black woman, said opening up the recruitment process was "rather token" since it wasn't accompanied by any way to measure progress.
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