Examining local race relations within Greek system


by Michelle Arnold


Posted on September 18, 2013 at 5:39 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 18 at 7:53 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) --  “We are talking about the 50th anniversary of the governor of that state George Wallace standing in the school house door at the very university to prevent desegregation in 1963,” said University of Louisville professor Dr. Ricky L. Jones.

5 decades later, the University of Alabama president admitting there are still racial barriers to break down, especially within the Greek system.

“How far does that reach? Clearly it was a case with one sorority. Is it the case with others? You don't solve things by running from them,” Jones said.

University of Alabama President Judy Bonner is not running. In fact, she's changing recruitment rules in hopes of more integration, but what is it like here at home?

We just pledged four white brothers at WKU,” said Greek student Rashad Mitchell, a member of an African-American fraternity at  UofL. He says any racial tensions he encounters stem from learned behaviors.

“This is based off the parents. What their parents have been teaching them.  It's a generational thing. So, once they pledge a fraternity and they have a family structure that is racist, they can't do nothing but pick up on that,” said Mitchell.

Despite the tensions, the Greek system at Uof L is opening up.

“We’ve seen an explosion, relatively speaking, of cross-cultural membership at UofL and other institutions too,” said Jones.

"Our president, two presidents ago, was African-American and one president before that was Asian,” said Greek student Danielle Hall.  

To some students, the idea of race discrimination within the Greek system here in campus is all Greek to them.

“I can’t even fathom something like that happening on our university,” said Hall.

While no university can control individual racism, institutional racism is avoidable, and that's where educations can promote change for the better.

“What we can do is create an environment that literally forces our students to engage other culture,” said Jones.