BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Targeted by protests following allegations of racial discrimination in its traditionally all-white sororities nearly three years ago, the University of Alabama said Friday it has developed a plan for increasing diversity in the Greek-letter groups in consultation with the Justice Department.
A statement by the university said the plan includes a clear process for reporting and investigating allegations of discrimination. The plan also includes training and education to help foster what the university called a campus “free of racial tension,” the statement said.
Work on the blueprint began in fall 2013 amid complaints and campus demonstrations about the exclusion of black women from traditionally all-white sororities at Alabama.
“We recognize this is a process that will take sustained focus and effort, and I am confident our student leaders will build upon the momentum generated over the last three years,” David Grady, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement.
Some historically white sororities have accepted black members in the years since the protests, making the once-segregated system more diverse. U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance said the new plan helps eliminate racial barriers.
“We appreciate the students who came forward with allegations about discrimination in sorority rush and made this action plan possible,” Vance said in a statement.
Alabama has what is billed as the nation’s largest Greek system, with about 10,000 students in 62 different organizations. Protests began after a handful of white sorority members were quoted by the student newspaper as saying sororities had excluded some prospective members because they were black.
The statement by Vance said her office and the Civil Rights Division contacted the university about the allegations of discrimination after campus officials already had begun taking steps to address them. The university plan was developed during talks between campus administrators and government lawyers, her statement said.
Peggy Sanford, a spokeswoman for Vance, said the university’s plan did not require a formal review or approval by Justice.