UA imposes diversity mandates on Greek organizations

The University of Alabama recently released an inclusion plan for fraternities and sororities after receiving backlash over a lack of diversity in the Greek community.

According to The Crimson White, UA issued a statement July 1 announcing the Action Plan, which includes specific initiatives geared toward promoting the inclusion of minorities in the university’s Greek recruitment process.

“In the action plan, the University has clarified expectations for all students and student organizations; established a clear and consistent process for reporting, investigating, and responding to allegations of discriminatory conduct; implemented appropriate training and education for those involved in the selection process; and worked to provide a supportive, welcoming campus that is inclusive and free of racial tension,” the statement read.

Work began on developing the Action Plan in 2013, following a story in The Crimson White alleging that African American pledges were being systematically denied acceptance into the school’s sororities.

The Action Plan requires every student organization, with the exception of certain fraternal organizations, to include a statement in its constitution affirming that the organization is open to all students. All student organizations, without exception, will also be required to participate in annual trainings on the school’s policies pertaining to discrimination/harassment.

“Membership in registered student organizations shall be open to all students of The University of Alabama, without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, or national origin, color, age, disability, gender identity or expression, sexual identity, or veteran status except in cases of designated fraternal organizations exempted by federal law from Title IX regulations concerning discrimination on the basis of sex,” the statement reads.

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The requirements are, if anything, more stringent for Greek organizations, which will now be required to submit an annual “Chapter Diversity Plan” to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life (OSFL) detailing initiatives and educational programs the organization is implementing in order to create an inclusive and non-discriminatory environment.

Organizations that do not participate in diversity training or submit a Chapter Diversity Plan run the risk of losing recognition or facing other, unspecified sanctions.

Additionally, all Greek organizations must submit a copy of both their local and national non-discrimination policies to OSFL pertaining to membership selection and chapter operations.

The action plan will require a myriad of trainings on diversity and inclusion for chapter presidents and members, such as the “Ethical Recruiting Workshop for all Recruitment,” “Rush, and Membership Intake,” “All-Greek Recruitment Inclusive Workshop,” and “Panhellenic Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Workshop.”

The OSFL will also collect a record of the membership by race and ethnicity of each fraternity and sorority and periodically evaluate the data to ferret out any discrepancies between the goals outlined in the Action Plan and the actual data reported by Greek organizations.

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“We are proud of the commitment and progress our student leaders and alumni have made over the last three years to increase diversity in the Greek community,” Vice President of Student Affairs, David Grady said in a statement. “Our fraternity and sorority community is stronger as a result. 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.”

UA, incidentally, hosts the largest fraternity and sorority membership in the nation, with 10,000 students affiliated with 62 Greek organizations

In an effort to create a more inclusive environment for the Greek community, UA consulted with both the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice to develop the plan.

"Greek life is a vital part of the college experience for many students,” U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said in a statement. “With today's 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,"

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