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All-white sororities' membership selection at issue

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By The Associated Press
Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

TUSCALOOSA — Prominent leaders in Alabama weighed in on Friday on allegations that all-white sororities passed over two prospective black members because of pressure from alumnae, and in one case, an adviser.

Paul Bryant Jr., president pro tem of the board of trustees for the University of Alabama Systems and the son of legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, said the school does not support the segregation of any organization. Gov. Robert Bentley, an alumnus, reiterated that fraternal organizations should choose members based on their qualifications, not race.

The student newspaper, The Crimson-White, first reported the allegations this week. The story quoted at least one named sorority member and several other anonymous ones as saying they wanted to invite the two black students to join, but were overridden.

One of the board's trustees, former Alabama Supreme Court Justice John England Jr., confirmed his stepgranddaughter was one of the black students passed over during recruitment in August.

England said he was encouraged to see sorority members speaking out about what happened, but said he thought his ties to the university contributed to the attention the allegations are getting. One of England's sons, Democratic state Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa is the student's stepfather.

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