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‘Bama greeks still unsure about desegregation

This might as well have been written in 1964. Welcome to Tuscaloosa, 2014:

A modest proposal encouraging Bama’s fraternities and sororities not to discriminate or segregate on the basis of race died in the student Senate last week—after it was sunk by senators with Greek sympathies, according to several of the bill’s sponsors. …

The proposed resolution was tame as hell; after decrying the school’s longtime “stigma… regarding its legacy of segregation,” it stated that “the Senate supports the complete integration of all Greek letter fraternities and sororities at the University of Alabama, with respect to social diversity among its membership.”

Opponents used a parliamentary procedure to table the resolution before the Senate adjourned from its final meeting. 27 senators voted to kill the bill; 5 voted for it, and 2 voted “present,” according to the Crimson White.

No doubt The Machine played a pivotal role in killing the resolution. For more on the all-white, secret society that wields tremendous influence at the University of Alabama, check out this Esquire article from 1992. Typically that would be considered a dated source, but look who I’m talking about.

The day I visit Kappa Alpha [Order], someone has a Confederate flag hanging in a back window, and there’s a nervous feeling in the air. That’s because fraternity leaders are holding strategy meetings to plan their defiance of the school administration. The university is trying to force integration and other reforms on the fraternities and sororities through a self-evaluation procedure called the accreditation plan. The university has no timetable; but the threat is that stubborn fraternities will lose official recognition — and be forced, some say, to rebuild their mansions off campus.

Christopher “Boo” Haughton, the Kappa Alpha president, can’t really talk for a couple of days, not till the fraternity has figured out its plan of action. He has tousled reddish-brown hair and big, heavy-lidded eyes. He wears boots and jeans and a T-shirt.

He does tell me a little about tradition. Greek life goes back to the time after the Civil War, he says, when the plantation owners sought a place closer than Europe for their boys to learn how to conduct themselves. Boo grew up in Haleyville, a town of five thousand. He’s from old money and says so openly.

“Southerners are a very proud people,” Boo says. “My grandmother tells stories of her mother being a child and throwing day-old biscuits at Union soldiers walking by their house in Pine Apple, Alabama.” He shakes his head. “That sends chills up my spine to think of that. Any association with that war — with what they wanted and what they went through.”

Southerners are not a monolith, Boo. Some of us are embarrassed our relatives were on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, rednecks like you continue doing your best to keep us in the Dark, er, White Ages.

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One thought on “‘Bama greeks still unsure about desegregation Leave a comment

  1. As an alumnus…while the Greeks and the Machine do wield their influence in student government, homecoming queen, et cetera, they were far from representing a consensus view on campus. That “frat boy” archetype was often ridiculed in most parts of campus that I frequented.

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