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Sororities Blocked From Talking To Media At University Of Alabama

The University of Alabama is apparently so afraid that sorority recruits and leaders will start a Ferguson-style race war that it has “restricted media access to those directly involved in rush,” as The Crimson White delicately puts it.

The 12o-year-old student paper reported a year ago that “black women participating in formal recruitment faced discrimination and were all eventually dropped from the process,” so the school this year is inventing uncreative excuses for why recruits can’t talk to the paper:

“Recruitment week is extremely busy for everyone in Greek affairs, for all the girls in Panhellenic,” said Cathy Andreen, director of media relations for the University. “We will certainly have some information available after it’s over, but there’s really not anyone available for interviews right now.”

When are college students not “extremely busy”? The paper says this is the first year that

no representatives from the University of Alabama office of Greek Affairs, the Panhellenic Executive Council or any sorority will be available for interviews during recruitment week, according to a list of guidelines sent to The Crimson White and other media outlets. Instead, all questions were to be directed to the University’s office of media relations.

The guide said the same will be true for bid day itself, when thousands of hopeful girls will crowd into Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, August 16, to find out which Panhellenic sororities have offered them membership. Media outlets will be provided with a list of girls receiving a bid that day, but all questions are to be directed to the University’s office of media relations.

The media are also not allowed on “the lawns of any sorority houses,” they can’t “knock on any doors, enter Bryant-Denny Stadium on bid day” or – get this – “disrupt students as they move along the sidewalk.”

“Disrupt”? As in, ask recruits for interviews? This is almost certainly an unenforceable policy on any level, certainly for a public university.

The Student Press Law Center quickly pounced on UA, telling the school that the media policy constitutes a “gag order” that violates the First Amendment, as The Crimson White noted today:

Although the University can at times regulate its employees’ speech, [SPLC Executive Director Frank] LoMonte wrote, there is little legal authority addressing a college’s ability to prevent students from speaking to media outlets, “because to [the SPLC’s] knowledge no college has been audacious enough to try.”

LoMonte asked the University to immediately make it clear that students are free to to speak to journalists and journalists are free to contact students to gauge their willingness to speak.

“It cannot go unremarked that the disclosures published in last year’s Crimson White article, ‘The Final Barrier,’ came about because members of Greek organizations broke ranks and did consent to speak with the news media about the outrages they witnessed, at times against the wishes of those supervising their organizations,” LoMonte said in the letter.

Unsurprisingly, UA gets the red-light designation from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, meaning it has “at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.”

In UA’s case, that describes its “discrimination and harassment policy,” while several more policies draw yellow-light designations, which means they “restrict a more limited amount of protected expression or, by virtue of their vague wording, could too easily be used to restrict protected expression. ” 

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.