Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

UA administration’s policies towards greeks hypocritical

Recall with me, if you will, a series of articles and editorials published last semester by The Crimson White regarding the perceived racial barrier of the University of Alabama’s greek system. Ultimately, it was found that the administration’s stance on the matter is that, “as independent social organizations,” it was up to each house to determine membership.

Essentially, that because fraternities and sororities – and all independent social organizations, for that matter – function more like country clubs than corporations, the University cannot force them to adopt policies. In the case of greek organizations, those matters are handled in-house and by a system of national chapters.

Which is fine; this isn’t about a system of self-governance.

What this is about involves a piece published in the Feb. 9 edition of The Crimson White by staff columnist and fraternity member Austin Gaddis. The editorial, titled “Drug testing violates rights,” details UA’s recent policy of “aggressively [coaxing fraternities] into implementing a drug testing policy for members.”

At this point I’d like to acknowledge that this piece is an editorial, and as such contains an element of bias, as all editorials invariably do. That being said, knowing the author and his background, I’m inclined to believe that at the very least the events detailed are accurate.

Again, this isn’t about drug testing or even drug use.

What this is about is the immense hypocrisy and outright gall of an administration who, when it involves matters of race and desegregation, says fraternities and sororities are independent social organizations and are free to govern accordingly, but then aggressively moves in to force organization-wide policies regarding drug use.

Well, I say force. According to Gaddis, fraternity officers must sign a contract, and they’re always free not to. But Gaddis also mentions that this signature “is in exchange for University approval of major projects, initiatives and renovations.”

So not only is it hypocritical, it’s completely underhanded.

What this shows us is that the administration isn’t above exerting its authority to force changes in policy. Just only in matters it deems important enough.

Why is drug testing all of a sudden a big enough issue for the administration to throw its weight around to get its way? I understand the desire to eliminate illicit drugs and drug usage from campus, but what is it that made this more important now than it was, say, five years ago?

I’ve used race and drug testing as examples, but ultimately what I’m asking for is consistency. It’s simply not fair for the University to pick and choose which issues to get involved in. Either every matter is on the table, or none of them are.

This also sets an interesting precedent for administrative action. UA can no longer say it won’t intervene because of independent social organization status, because clearly it’s willing to. Unless, of course, it admits that our fraternities and sororities – flagship institutions at the University of Alabama – aren’t just independent social organizations.

Admitting that would simply be a sign of respect, though, because actions have already shown that the administration pays extra close attention to these particular independent social organizations.

Not that they shouldn’t. These houses are a big part of the University of Alabama and its identity, and are the largest subsection on campus. If the administration wants to wield greater policy influence over organizations that make up part of its public face, I think they’re well within their right to do so (within reason).

But to reiterate my point, it’s important to acknowledge that position; it’s unfair to both everyone involved as well as those of us watching at home when no one knows what’s going to happen next.


John Davis is the chief copy editor of The Crimson White. His column runs Mondays.

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