Univ. of Alabama Jewish Sorority Elects First Black President

Patterson-university-alabama-water-cooler-convosRace relations in this country have become increasingly hot-button in recent years. And, our issues discussing and addressing race have, in some cases, left us behind the goalpost for racial equality. Fraternities and sororities are not insulated from these problems. On the bright side, one historically Jewish sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, at the University of Alabama recently overcame a racial barrier electing the first black woman as president of their organization. Hannah Patterson, 22-year-old engineering major, is definitely shining.

Fraternities and sororities in the Panhellenic Council of Greek organizations are predominantly white. Many of them were founded in the early nineteenth century when most schools did not admit people of color. Sigma Delta Tau is no different. But, the University of Alabama recently had a controversy surrounding race and admittance into these organizations which makes this story that much more important.

Recently, a young black woman was denied the opportunity to join any of the 16 Panhellenic sororities on campus despite having stellar grades and scores.

According to the University’s paper, The Crimson White:

“By any measure, this candidate was what most universities would consider a prime recruit for any organization, sorority or otherwise. She had a 4.3 GPA in high school, was salutatorian of her graduating class and comes from a family with deep roots in local and state public service and a direct link to The University of Alabama.

The recruit, who asked to remain anonymous, seemed like the perfect sorority pledge on paper, yet didn’t receive a bid from any of the 16 Panhellenic sororities during formal recruitment. Gotz and others said they know why: The recruit is black. She and at least one other black woman, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of personal safety, went through formal recruitment this year, but neither was offered a bid.”

The students knew something was afoot here but it was the alumnae who made the decision to exclude these young black women from their organization.

Well, now that Hannah Patterson is in leadership at the University’s sorority row, it might help to assuage any persistent issues with race. Though she is very humble, her skin color is quite meaningful and symbolic. A sorority, created to provide Jewish women with a sense of community and solace, has welcomed another racial group with similar historical grievances and atrocities.

When asked about her race and its relation to her new roles, Patterson said the following:

“I never saw color or race or ethnicity. It’s never been in the front of my mind…I tried to never let it hinder anything I did or judge people on that. I guess I never really thought about, ‘Oh, I’m the first African-American that has been president.’ I’m just excited for my term and to see where my chapter has gone and where it is going to go.”

While she may not see her race as significant, many of those who come to the University after her certainly will. The school is not out of the woods yet when it comes to race progress. But this is a step in the right direction.

Hopefully, Patterson’s term will be one of change. She is in a shining position to make a lasting impact on her sorority and institution.worthSignature

Comments

  1. tealover says:

    Great! Good for her! Very beautiful woman too!