Georgia Suspends Alpha Gamma Delta

Friday, September 8th 2000, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — An all-white sorority accused of rejecting a black woman because of her race has been suspended by the University of Georgia, where the grand antebellum Greek houses that line Milledge Avenue remain bastions of racial exclusivity nearly 40 years after the school was integrated.

The Alpha Gamma Delta chapter cannot conduct social or recruitment activities while the organization and university investigate why the unidentified black woman was rejected.

``Based on the allegation and the early investigation as reported to me, it appears this sorority has acted wrongly in both motive and result,'' university President Michael Adams said.

A sorority member told university officials that the black student was denied admission because of her race. The unidentified woman said she expected retaliation from the campus chapter after she filed the complaint and has since withdrawn from school.

The black woman rejected by Alpha Gamma Delta wanted to join several white friends as they went through the ``rush'' process in which potential members dress up and visit the Greek houses, hoping to make a good impression so the sorority will pick them as members.

While no written rule bars blacks from the traditionally white social organizations, many minorities feel so unwelcome they have maintained their own fraternities and sororities.

Evita Broughton, a black freshman from Marietta, said she expected at least one sorority to accept the student, but was not surprised by her exclusion.

``That's just the way it works,'' Broughton said. ``There's a lot more harmony between races on campus now, but there are still certain things you just don't do.''

The woman eventually dropped out of the process after two or three days because she didn't feel comfortable, school officials said.

University officials are investigating whether members of Alpha Gamma Delta talked about the woman's race and questioned how the sorority would be perceived if it accepted a black student.

Alpha Gamma Delta — which is housed in an ornate white mansion surrounded by classical Greek columns — fended off questions Thursday by handing out a simple news release that said they were ``aware there have been allegations of racial discrimination ... Alpha Gamma Delta does not condone racism in any form.''

Julie Cretin, the sorority's national executive director, said she does not know how many black women are members of the 96-year-old organization with 123,000 members worldwide.

``We are taking these allegations very seriously,'' said Cretin, who is based in Indianapolis. ``Alpha Gamma Delta believes in treating all our members and potential members with equality. We are committed to finding out exactly what happened.''

Members of other sororities were hesitant to talk about the suspension. Many said their national organizations had advised them not to talk to the media.

Elizabeth Breiner, a senior and member of Gamma Phi Beta, said it was ``shocking and horrible'' for a sorority to reject someone because of race. She said her house doesn't have any blacks but never considers a potential member's race.

``We really look at personality, you as a person and what you bring to the house,'' she said. ``I personally think it would be great if sororities are more diverse.''

About 30,000 students attend the state's flagship university, but only 6 percent are black in a state that is 25 percent black. About 19 percent of the students on campus belong to Greek organizations.

There are seven traditionally black Greek organizations at the university — four sororities and three fraternities. In sharp contrast to the mansions on Milledge Avenue, none of the black groups have houses. Like their white counterparts, they are usually composed of a single racial group.

Shantwuan Johnson, a black student from Atlanta, said she has nothing in common with the members of traditionally white sororities and has no interest in joining one.

``If you want an organization, create your own,'' said Michael Carthon, another black student from Atlanta. ``Why would you want to be a part of an organization that doesn't share your culture or values?''

Though they are open to anyone, historically black fraternities and sororities give minority students a place where they can create a sense of community on a mostly white campus, said Billie Kennedy, student affairs counselor to the National Pan-Hellenic Council, an umbrella group for black Greek organizations.

``People join organizations where they feel they fit in,'' Kennedy said.


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