Roy Exum: Alabama’s Racial Flare-Up

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the University of Alabama football team plays its first home game of the year today, some Crimson Tide fans will be sitting in different seats. Tonight the fraternities and sororities will not be allowed to sit together in “blocks” of seats as they have at every game for many years – they will instead be scattered apart from one another in an attempt to “foster togetherness” between the students.

Exactly 50 years ago Governor George Wallace tried to prevent two black students from attending the university. Now there is now a concerted push to force the university’s fraternities and sororities to issue invitations to minority students, most specifically blacks who fail to get invitations from the various chapters.

This is touchy ground. Can the state of Alabama, or the Department of Justice, decree who you can invite into your home for dinner? What about a membership process that has famously been determined by a vote of 50 or so sorority sisters? Or is it time for our future leaders to survey society’s landscape and realize they might be better with a diverse mixture of students in a fun, social setting? Either way, the U.S. District Attorney is now monitoring allegations of racial discrimination and segregation in the Greek system in Tuscaloosa.

But – wait! -- on Friday at least two sororities presented open invitations to two black girls. In a warm turn of events, Halle Lindsay accepted what is known as a continuous open bid from the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority. Cami McCant, a senior at the university, accepted a bid to Kappa Alpha Theta and more bids are expected.

Last weekend black activist Jesse Jackson showed up to spew and stomp and, on Wednesday, nearly 400 students, carrying a huge banner that read, “The Final Stand In The Schoolhouse Door,” to the Rose Administration Building in an effort to encourage change and acceptance in the fraternities and sororities that contribute to student life.

An article in the student newspaper, “Crimson White,” claimed that the first (and last) time a sorority pledged a black was in 2003 and apparently the “investigative journalism” hit a raw nerve on campus. The newspaper reported that four sororities had denied two well-qualified black girls. According to Alpha Gamma Delta member Melanie Gotz, the black girl she knows was denied a bid because she was black.

Gotz told the newspaper, “That's stupid, but who's going to be the one to make that jump? How much longer is it going to take til we have a black girl in a sorority? It's been years, and it hasn't happened.” Yardena Wolf of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority added, “I think that the only time the administration or the sororities would ever take accountability for something is when there's all this outside pressure, I wish it could be coming more from a place of love during real rush, and I wish this had happened a month ago.”

Matthew W. Hughey, an associate professor of African American Studies at the University of Connecticut who has studied racism in white sororities, told Inside Higher Ed magazine, “It’s de jure illegal, but de facto in practice,” Hughey said. “The bigger point here is that the Greek letter system – all over the United States, not just in the deep South – has traditionally been based on exclusion…. We shouldn’t think organizations based on exclusion will all of a sudden become inclusive.”

Inside Higher Ed knows many clubs and groups are exclusive and had a side-story about Smith College. It seems a girl who is straight wants to start a club for her minority friends who are also not lesbians. The magazine printed a letter that said, in part, “Hello, this is (name) and I am sending this message to girls I think might be interested in this idea and I would also love to hear your opinion on this so I have this crazy idea.

“I want to start a sorority at Smith (Delta Gamma/DG), which would basically just be an exclusive group for straight girls, a little friend group,” the letter read, “We would have sorority mixers with Amherst men, weekly dinner dates, weekly photo-shoots where we would dress up nice, baking nights. We would also get Sorority apparel (even Lily Pulitzer has the cutest DG stuff!) and we’d have traditions, like every Wednesday we wear pink (haha.)

“I got this idea because personally as a straight girl at Smith, I feel marginalized and I feel like the minority,” the Smith student wrote, “and I think this could be a really great way to socialize with people we identify more with at Smith, and to meet more guys.”

While it is thrilling Alabama seems to have closed an ugly page of history, I don’t quite know what to think about Smith. A sorority for straight girls sounds as stupid as the National Association for the White People or something. And if a gay student wanted to join Delta Gamma, would it be discrimination if she wasn’t offered a bid? Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

royexum@aol.com


Rep. John Deffenbaugh: Week 11 House Of Representatives Report

The Georgia General Assembly reconvened under the Gold Dome on Monday, March 20 for day 36 of the 2017 legislative session. Sine die is less than a week away, and the House had another busy week of reviewing legislation in committee hearings, voting on bills and resolutions on the House floor and giving final passage to several bills that will now be considered by Governor Deal. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Ballooniac’ Fined $25K

The Calgary Stampede is one of the biggest events in Canada and every year it draws well over 1.5 million people to one of the most beautiful places in the world. It started in 1912 as a big rodeo event and today it lasts 10 straight days. A highlight is the chuck-wagon races, where $4 million of advertisements are sold on the wagon’s canvas covers and there are pancake breakfasts ... (click for more)

Marquis Perry, 20, Killed In 3-Car Accident In Dalton On Saturday

Marquis Perry, 20, was killed in a  fatal three-vehicle crash on the South Bypass in Dalton just south of Sawgrass Drive  on Saturday  at approximately  4:30 pm . The crash happened when the driver of a black Ford Mustang traveling southbound on the bypass for some reason left its lane of travel and crossed over the center line and hit a 2004 Chevy ... (click for more)

Cedric A. Williams, 38, Arrested For Multiple Burglaries

Cedric A. Williams, 38, responsible for four business burglaries, was arrested by Chattanooga Police.  Teamwork, corroboration, and communication between three detectives working separate cases led to the arrest of the man targeting Hispanic-owned businesses in Chattanooga,, officials said. On Wednesday, March 8, Tienda Maya located at 1939 Central Ave. was burglarized. ... (click for more)

Mocs Finish Third At Furman Intercollegiate

The Chattanooga Mocs men’s golf team finished tied for third at the Furman Intercollegiate. They did so behind senior Wes Gosselin’s runner-up performance.   Gosselin shot a career-best 10-under 206. It’s the eighth time a Moc has finished 10-under or better, the first since Stephan Jaeger’s school-record 203 (-13) winning the 2012 NCAA Bowling Green Regional   ... (click for more)

DecoTurf Tennis: Walton Edges Baylor Gilrls, 4-3 for A Division Title

Top-seeded Walton (Ga.) defeated No.2 Baylor, 4-3, in the finals of the Girls A Division Saturday. Highlighted by Liz Norman’s (Walton) 6-1, 6-0 triumph against Baylor’s Drew Haskins at No.1 singles, Walton also picked up wins from No.4 Samantha Buyckx and No.5 Grace Gaskins, plus the doubles point to secure the win. Walton won Decoturf in 2015 and lost to Baylor last ... (click for more)