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University of Alabama announces plan to combat racial discrimination in fraternities and sororities

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The University of Alabama Quad.

Special to The Times

The University of Alabama Quad.
The University of Alabama Quad

The University of Alabama last week announced plans to prevent and respond to racial discrimination and increase diversity within the school’s fraternities and sororities.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division had contacted the university in 2013 to inquire about allegations of race discrimination in the selection process for new members in the school’s traditionally white sororities.

The action plan announced last week establishes a clear and consistent process for investigating and responding to allegations of discriminatory conduct and provides a campus free of racial tension, school officials said in a statement.

The University of Alabama claims the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation with regard to overall membership.

“We recognize this is a process that will take sustained focus and effort, and I am confident our student leaders will build upon the momentum generated over the last three years,” said Dr. David Grady, UA’s vice president for student affairs.

School officials say the plan provides a model to promote inclusion in the recruitment process for its Greek community. The model captures three years of focused effort, which began in fall 2013 and resulted in increasingly diverse new member sorority classes in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The action plan was announced following discussions between the school and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division.

“Greek life is a vital part of the college experience for many students,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “With [its] action plan, the University of Alabama makes a commitment that this important component of university life, which plays a significant role in the formation of relationships students will carry forward into their adult lives, is not tarnished by racial barriers.”

Vance added that her office looks forward to the university’s prompt and full implementation of the action plan. “We appreciate the students who came forward with allegations about discrimination in sorority rush and made this action plan possible,” she said. “We urge the community to contact our office if they have any concerns about discrimination or other civil-rights violations on any campus.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Intake Specialist can be contacted at (205)244-2185 or usaaln.civilrights@usdoj.gov.