Several months ago, The Crimson White, the University of Alabama’s student newspaper, highlighted unsettling institutional discrimination within the university’s Greek organizations. Following their lengthy exposé, a senator for the Student Government Association proposed Resolution #R-XX-14, “the complete integration of all Greek letter fraternities and sororities at the University of Alabama, with respect to social diversity among its membership.”
And — surprise, surprise — it was killed in a Senate committee meeting earlier this month.
With such an embarrassing outcome, UA’s reputation has once again been tainted by the stench of racism and sponsors of the resolution are quick to blame Greek sympathizers.
But what these Greeks, myself included, recognize isn’t their own desire for their organizations to remain homogenous. Instead, this resolution would be putting the power of integration in the hands of the wrong organization, and Greeks know this.
Fraternities and sororities are all governed by their respective national executive board. This body oversees everything from rituals to philanthropy — yes, membership too — and is the only body that can revote a chapter’s charter. Because Greek organizations almost always work in tandem with a university, said university may have the power to disallow a fraternity or sorority from living or otherwise operating on university-owned property, but little else.
The senator’s intentions were admirable, but unfortunately misplaced. Charging any university’s SGA with the task of integrating Greek membership is comparable to demanding the state of Georgia coin it’s own currency (We all want to get back on the gold standard, don’t we?).
For those who really want to see an institutional change in Greek membership, you’re going to need bigger guns than a meager SGA resolution.
Rather than patting themselves on the back for proposing a powerless resolution, it is time for UA students, University of Georgia students and anyone else interested in a truly integrated Greek community to demand change from those who can actually do something about it.
—Laura Thompson for the editorial board