At least 15 alumnae of The University of Alabama’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority chapter have signed a letter claiming they and others were “incorrectly labeled as racists” by their own international headquarters’ (IHQ) investigation into allegations of racial discrimination during the fall sorority recruitment process.
The letter, dated Oct. 11 and addressed to the IHQ of Alpha Gamma Delta Women’s Fraternity, accused that office of “unfairly” assuming members and alumnae of the University’s Psi chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta practiced discrimination.
The letter, obtained by The Crimson White through the student organization UA Stands, also called for “immediate representation of Psi chapter alumnae in all Psi related decision-making processes.” It further asked for the sorority’s headquarters to hold a meeting in Tuscaloosa or Birmingham to address alumnae concerns about “managing the issue of the huge number of recruitment participants,” which has led to a larger chapter size in which “CEO level skills are required to manage.”
“Current IHQ recruitment bylaws simply are not comprehensive enough to manage supersized recruitment classes such as Psi chapter’s, and we have been forced to implement additional layers of rules,” the letter read. “These practices are not discriminatory in nature and IHQ was well aware that Psi chapter had implemented them. However, it appears IHQ used these additional layers as an excuse to avoid reviewing all the procedures in place and to unfairly assume Psi chapter’s practices were discriminatory.”
The alumnae letter follows a Sept. 11 article in The Crimson White titled “The Final Barrier” in which members of UA sororities, including Alpha Gamma Delta Psi chapter, accused alumnae and advisors of deliberately blocking the recruitment of at least two black students.
In response to the article, Alpha Gamma Delta’s IHQ issued a press release Sept. 18 stating the organization had taken “swift internal actions to respond to allegations raised regarding recruitment at its University of Alabama chapter.”
The Oct. 11 alumnae letter cited that statement specifically in its complaint.
“Unfortunately, the statement stops short of saying those allegations were substantiated or refuted,” the letter stated. “The reader is left with the impression that Psi chapter did discriminate. We strongly feel this statement, as well as IHQ’s actions, caused all Psi alumnae to be incorrectly labeled as racists.”
The Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae complaint also referenced a letter written by a Delta Delta Delta representative to that sorority’s membership as an example of a more positive approach in handling allegations of racism.
In the aftermath of The Crimson White’s story, UA President Judy Bonner announced Sept. 16 that the recruitment process would be reopened with continuous opening bidding. Subsequently, Oct. 15, Bonner announced that 23 minority women, including 14 black women, had accepted bids into the traditionally all-white Panhellenic sorority system.
However, the UA Alpha Gamma Delta alumnae letter states negative comments toward them have continued on social media.
“We are further disheartened that several sisters have posted negative and inflammatory comments directed at Psi alumnae on the official Alpha Gamma Delta Facebook page, in direct violation of IHQ’s own rules,” the letter states. “By allowing such insulting comments to remain on its Facebook page, the media, the public, and our own sisters continue to believe that all Psi alumnae are racists.”
“It is our understanding that some collegians have been compensated in exchange for revealing confidential information or giving interviews to the media,” the letter also claimed.
Mazie Bryant, editor-in-chief of The Crimson White, said the newspaper offered no compensation to sources quoted in “The Final Barrier” story.
“We have conducted an internal investigation within The Crimson White about these allegations, and we have found that they are completely unsubstantiated,” Bryant said. “Matt [Ford] and Abbey [Crain] are both excellent journalists, and we pride ourselves at The Crimson White for upholding journalistic ethics within the newsroom and outside while our journalists are reporting on a story. These allegations are untrue, and we have gone through every means to make sure that this did not happen.”
Additionally, Melanie Gotz, the Alpha Gamma Delta member who recounted the discriminatory practices within her sorority during recruitment in “The Final Barrier,” also confirmed that she had not been compensated.
Bryant said, however, she could not speak for other media outlets who followed up on The Crimson White’s coverage with their own interviews and stories.
Jill Harter, director of communications and marketing at Alpha Gamma Delta Fraternity, said the letter would be handled internally.
“Alpha Gamma Delta continues to support and empower our collegiate chapter at the University of Alabama in realizing its vision for a more inclusive chapter and university community,” Harter said. “When the original article first appeared in The Crimson White, the Fraternity received many inquiries from our members. What has been clear from the inquiries received is that we have a membership that is absolutely committed to ensuring that all our chapters provide a place where women from all backgrounds are welcome as sisters. Similar to the previous concerns expressed by the membership, these most recent concerns raised by some alumnae of Psi Chapter will also be addressed internally.”
The Crimson White attempted to contact the signees on the letter multiple times, and several did not return calls before publication. Four of the women declined to comment, citing the letter was an internal matter. One of the alumnae confirmed the letter was real but declined to comment further.