Maggie: Fraternities have been around since the birth of our country in 1776. Now, a lot has changed since then, but some students in Alabama say their university’s Greek system is stuck in the past. Shelby Holliday has the story.
Shelby: Hundreds of protestors gathered at the University of Alabama this week.
Steven Becton: We’re here fighting the institutionalized racism that’s been allowed to, sort of, fester on our campus.
Lindsey Smith: This has long been a taboo subject shrouded in fear.
Shelby: Marching together, a diverse group of demonstrators spoke out against what they say is longtime racial segregation in sororities and fraternities.
Lindsey: This is a conversation that has been going on since I came to Alabama, and before my time even.
Shelby: The issue was brought to light by the school’s student newspaper. An article claimed that black students had been denied entry to a sorority because of their race. A former sorority member denied the allegations, but it was enough to spark a debate.
Khortlan Patterson: Seemingly, there wasn’t enough open dialogue – especially for the Greek community to come and speak their opinion. I think this year is going to be the year. I hope so. And, I mean, and the anniversary of the integration, I think this would be a very meaningful year for this to happen.
Shelby: The demonstration comes fifty years after the desegregation of the university. In 1963, two brave African-Americans became the first black students to enroll in the school. But fifty years later, students say the university still has a long way to go.
Student: There are people here who weren’t sure how their chapters would take it, who weren’t sure how their organizations would take it. They weren’t sure if they were even going to lose their jobs, potentially, over it. I’m so incredibly proud of everybody who showed up here today.
University representative: The University of Alabama will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.
Shelby: This week, the school’s president issued a statement requiring sororities to begin diversifying their organizations. But some students say that ending segregation in the Greek system won’t be the real victory.
Steven: That is just one isolated event, and it’s a manifestation of something that we see on a daily basis here on our campus.
Shelby: Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.
Maggie: Alabama is also starting new courses aimed at bringing students together to talk about difficult issues like race.