In Kayla Webley’s Marie Claire article “Revolution on Sorority Row” Katie Smith seems like a hero.
But rather than allow the status quo to persist for yet another year, some sorority women spoke out. “Our sorority has a culture of silence. We were to never speak about the fact that we didn’t have any African-Americans,” says Katie Smith, 20, a senior and member of Wolf’s house, Alpha Omicron Pi. “I was tired of being silenced.” Members of several houses were quoted anonymously in an article published by the campus newspaper, The Crimson White. CNN, The New York Times, and other outlets sent reporters to cover the story.
It’s possible that some readers of this blog don’t remember the letter from Katie Smith’s mother to University of Alabama President Judy Bonner that stirred up so many resentful comments about Katie.
A prophet often is only recognized by those who are outside. The article by Kayla Webley is a reminder that students such as Katie Smith rose above the traditional attitudes of racial prejudice and set in motion the wheels of change.
The Webley article concluded:
Such firmly ingrained mind-sets won’t change overnight, but many are seeing the opening up of the Greek system as impetus to have a larger dialogue on campus. Smith sponsored a resolution in the student government to encourage complete integration in all Greek houses. (It failed, but a similar resolution to support integration passed a month later.) Bechtel and Wolf helped start Students for Open Doors and Ethical Leadership, which brings members of campus groups together to discuss ways to further integrate. Another organization called Blend hosts weekly “Blend Days,” during which students of all races eat together at a designated table in the cafeteria. (Otherwise, the tables are mostly unofficially segregated by race.) The faculty senate created a task force to draw up recommendations for increasing equality on campus. The true test of whether these initiatives are paying off, and whether the integration that came under pressure last fall will have a lasting effect, is the next round of formal sorority recruitment at Alabama. At the moment, rush is on.