University of Alabama Joins Late 20th Century

The University of Alabama has been dragged kicking and screaming into the mid-1960s, sparking hope that someday they might join the 21st century in a few decades after the student senate approved a resolution calling for fraternities and sororities on campus to be racially integrated. Yes, in 20-freaking-14.

It’s official: the University of Alabama is on the record supporting racial integration – in the year 2014.

Last week Alabama’s Student Senate passed a resolution supporting the complete integration of Greek life at the university. The renewed conversation about race at the historically troubled campus began after a black female student with a 4.3 GPA was denied by all 16 of the school’s sororities. An earlier resolution supporting racial integration had failed by a wide margin.

Yes, you read that right. A few weeks ago that same student senate voted by an overwhelming 27-5 margin to kill the resolution:

The University of Alabama SGA’s Senate Thursday night failed to pass a resolution to support the full integration of its Greek system, and sent it instead to committee, where it will die with the end of the 2013-14 Senate session.

Though its opponents remain tight-lipped on what issues they found with the resolution, its co-authors unanimously believe the bill was intentionally killed on the Senate floor by what one senator calls a “manipulation” of procedure to ensure its demise.

Senator and bill co-author Chisolm Allenlundy said he understands why some people disagree with the bill but takes issues that the bill wasn’t formally debated or considered on the floor.

“My fellow senators chose rather to send it to committee, so that they would not have to be listed as having voted against the legislation.”

You can read that resolution here. That it could be even remotely controversial at this late date is absurd. Welcome to the 1960s, Alabama. With any luck, you’ll be getting some parachute pants and Members Only jackets in another decade or so.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • Trebuchet

    Given the level of privileges which universities give to the “Greek system”, why shouldn’t this bar the school from getting any form of federal aid?

  • d.c.wilson

    Cut U of Alabam some slack. They just got some of that new fangled indoor plumbing last year.

  • zero6ix

    “My fellow senators chose rather to send it to committee, so that they would not have to be listed as having voted against the legislation.”

    So they’re racists, but don’t want to be known as racists.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, live in Mobile, THE WHITE KOLLAR KLAN!

  • timpayne

    I think it likely the sororities all rejected her not because she’s black, but because a 4.3 gpa would destroy their reputations.

  • Michael Heath

    It’s a mark of moral progress that bigotry is now largely covert and frequently, denied by those who are bigots.

    What should never be forgotten is the very type of thinking that results in bigotry remains endemic in the U.S. Such defective thinking isn’t just pervasive as a remnant of a past era. Instead this approach to thinking remains promoted and celebrated in various pockets of society, particularly by religious/political conservatives and conservative-libertarians.

    For enlightened liberalism to solidify a cultural victory, we need to continue to focus on increasing the exposure and training young people are exposed to in regards to developing their critical thinking skills. That’s because bigotry fails miserably when exposed to rationalism and evidence.

  • democommie


    I’ve been busy; furring and padding out some walls in what will be a sumptuous bathroom when it’s finished (if I live that long), hanging shitrock and working on my framerese, (Sample sentence: “Where in fucking hell is that goddamned-motherfucking-pieceofshit-sonuvabitchcocksucker 4′ level?”*). I decided to take a break and have some soup.

    I scanned the headers on today’s posts and they reminded me of the scene from the first MIB movie where Tommy Lee Jones grabs up copies of all of the weirdo tabloids at the newsstand and tells Will Smith that the stuff in them is the ONLY accurate information about extra terrestrials. I feel ‘zackly the same way about DFtCW. I don’t OWN a teevee but if I did I would throw something through the screen if I had to endure what passes for actual news these days.

    I actually know a lot of people who BELIEVE that we’re all good with African Americans because we let them play pro sports and work at jobs in our whitepeople world. It gets depressing to contemplate the state of this union.

    * I often make these queries while holding or standing next to the object of the search–oh, sure, that NEVER happens to you!

  • Lea

    4.3 GPA? Have they changed the grading scale since I was in school? Am I old?

  • Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    4.3 means she netted herself some college-level credited courses while still in high school. Prolly shave herself off a full semester – which by the sound of it, won’t be missed by her.

  • Travis

    I am oh so glad that the Greek system is fairly negligible in Canada. Heck, when I was doing my undergraduate degree the only sign I saw of a frat was quite literally a little road sign that pointed the way to a frat. UBC, UoT and a few others seem to have more developed Greek communities but even then they seem to be fairly small and unimportant.

  • notyet

    @Lea. Some advanced courses count for more than standard courses so she has not only been getting perfect scores but doing it in the toughest courses offered. I wonder what might constitute an advanced level course at U of Ala. “KKK studies” 101 perhaps or “Ideas and practices in bigotry”

  • Jeremy Shaffer

    So they’re racists, but don’t want to be known as racists.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, live in Mobile, THE WHITE KOLLAR KLAN!

    Actually, U of A is in Tuscaloosa, not Mobile, but otherwise what you say is a good summary of how many people are in Alabama in general. I’ve heard people say easily demonstrably false things about various minorities that get seriously aggrieved if you point out they’re being racist. I’ve even had a few people admit that they knew what they claimed about minorities was blatantly untrue but they still insisted that they were not racist. They’ve adopted a belief that it is far more offensive to point out their racism than it is for them to be racist. Sadly, this belief has spread to other things and has been quickly picked up by many conservatives.

  • Chiroptera

    Senator and bill co-author Chisolm Allenlundy said he understands why some people disagree with the bill….

    Oh, good. Maybe he can explain it to the rest of us.

  • busterggi

    Hooray they’ll integrate! Now non-whites will proudly be able to come in the back door and use the non-white facilities inside instead of those being limited to the hired help.

  • whheydt

    Re: Lea @ #7:

    When I was at UC Berkeley in the late 1960s, my dorm roommate one year was furious over getting “only” a straight A in a course instead of his customary A+, “ruining” his 4.3 GPA.

    What’s more he was a EE major (Engineering tends to have notoriously low GPAs, and EE tends to be the toughest of the lot). Last I heard, he’d gotten hired by a startup with a 5% stake as a hiring bonus…after turning down Intel in it’s early days.

  • scienceavenger

    No word yet on whether homosexuals will be allowed in the Greek system.

  • justsomeguy

    “Senator and bill co-author Chisolm Allenlundy said he understands why some people disagree with the bill…”

    Well maybe he should explain that to the rest of us, because it seems like a complete non-issue to me.

  • Synfandel

    @9 Travis wrote:

    I am oh so glad that the Greek system is fairly negligible in Canada.

    It is pretty low-profile in Canada. I did undergraduate studies at McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario—a comparatively blue collar school that you get into on merit rather than on pedigree. Then I moved to the University of Western Ontario for grad school. The latter has a reputation as a country club for the spoiled spawn of the well-to-do. I was floored to learn that there were actual fraternities on campus, having previously thought that they had existed only in the US in the 1950s and ’60s and in Harold Ramis movies.

  • Stacy

    @Jeremy Shaffer #11

    They’ve adopted a belief that it is far more offensive to point out their racism than it is for them to be racist.

    This attitude is widespread. It is also true of sexism, homophobia, and other bigotries. Think of Michael Shermer’s hyperbolic reaction to Ophelia Benson pointing out his sexism (“witch hunt!”)

    Part of the problem is that people think being “a racist” or “a sexist” means “hating” other races or women, or subscribing consciously and wholeheartedly to a white supremacist or male supremacist worldview. If you think of it like that, it’s true that there aren’t so many “racists” or “sexists” (though there are still far too many, of course. One is too many.)

    But in fact racism and sexism are often unconscious biases, and we’ve all internalized them to greater or lesser extents (even those of us who belong to the marginalized groups.) Maybe if we taught people to recognize those biases in the same way we can learn to recognize cognitive biases–but what am I saying. Even many skeptics tend to think cognitive biases don’t apply to them and angrily resist recognizing them.

  • Stacy

    (In themselves.)

  • Erp

    I don’t like the Greek system myself but at least at my university some of the local traditionally white fraternities were being kicked out by the national organizations in the early 1960s for integrating (admitting Jews and/or Blacks and/or other non-Whites and, in one case, women).

    It is amazing btw how much people try to hide how segregationist the Greek system was and for how long (check Wikipedia on the history let us say of the Lexington Triad: Kappa Alpha Order, Alpha Tau Omega, Sigma Nu [only Sigma Nu’s article mentions it]). Or how when the ban on non-white Christians was officially lifted some instituted a national veto on new members (application to be sent had to include a photo).

  • dingojack

    Fraternities are something I can’t understand (they don’t really exist here). Why do they exist? What are their function? and etc. (IASF).

    CASSIUS Did Cicero say any thing?

    CASCA Ay, he spoke Greek.

    CASSIUS To what effect?

    CASCA Nay, an I tell you that, Ill ne’er look you i’ the

    face again: but those that understood him smiled at

    one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own

    part, it was Greek to me.


  • eric

    @21: they somewhat tightly knit social clubs. You must apply to get in one, go through a period of preliminary acceptance, then go thorugh an initiation where you generally swear to help/be friends with/support the other members and the ideals of the club. After that, you’re expected to participate in the club’s general social activities, you must pay dues to it (which get used to support parties as well as a house or meeting place and some occasional charity work), and you will generally hang out more with the people in your club than with other people.

    In theory, being a member might also get you some benefit after college in that other alums in the business world may give you a ‘leg up’ if you are one of them. However, I have never seen any real evidence of this sort of fraternal nepotism. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, just that it doesn’t seem to be obvious or wide spread.

  • martinc

    eric @ 22:

    Another Aussie here, also mystified by the attraction of fraternities. Just from the sound of them, and from what we see in the movies … I mean, doesn’t everyone kind of consider anyone who’d join a fraternity as being a bit of a dick?

    PS. Shorn of context, if anyone had asked me what I thought of ‘the Greek life’, I’d have replied “to each his own, but I happen to be heterosexual myself.”