When I wrote my original piece on the Alabama sorority recruitment scandal the other day, I almost ended the title with “Let The Shit Storm Begin” instead of “What a Goddamn Joke,” because I knew that this story was going to spread like wildfire. By the end of the same week the story broke, I am proven correct. Most major media outlets have descended upon Tuscaloosa, most notoriously CNN, and the story originally published in The Crimson White has been covered endlessly online. I think even Buzzfeed expressed their distaste using 13 Grumpy Cat memes.
Here’s a round up of said shit storm.
Due to the scope and publicity of this scandal, the rumor mill has been churning pretty hard at Alabama these past few days. It’s the sort of mill output Alabama hasn’t seen since 1865. No one is quite sure what is going to happen, or even, really, what is happening. Last night, sorority and fraternity swaps were cancelled because of the media’s descent on the university. There are widespread claims of CNN reporters disguising themselves as students, because apparently those reporters’ journalism schools used Never Been Kissed as an instructional video. One sorority girl claims the CNN reporters even successfully infiltrated some houses.
Yes, swaps were cancelled this week, due to reporters pretending to be new members. CNN even got into a few houses.
I’m not sold on the CNN reporters sneaking into swaps rumor, if only because I’m not really sure how effective some mid-20s, early-30s CNN journalists dressing in letters and party gear and trying to blend in would be.
Undercover 29-Year-Old Reporter: Hey! ‘Sup you all! Ain’t this swap party between our sorority, Pi Beta Phi, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s fraternity just the dopest?
Pi Phi 1: Uh, yeah, it’s pretty fun.
Pi Phi 2: Who are you again?
Undercover Reporter: Betty Sue!
Pi Phi: I don’t think I know you. You’re not a Pi Phi, are you?
Undercover Reporter: Whaaaaat? You all are crazy. Of course I am. But you know who I’m glad isn’t a Pi Phi? Black people. Amiright? Let’s talk about that!
Pi Phi 1: Uh, what?
Undercover Reporter: Black people! They’re like, totes lame and gross and should be treated like second class citizens! Don’t you agree? And please, elaborate. If you could aim your words at my large, conspicuous broach that is not, I assure you, a comically oversized microphone.
Pi Phi 2: Okay I’m pretty sure you’re not a Pi Phi. You need to leave. (*To Pi Phi 1*) We should make sure there aren’t any other randoms at this swap.
(*A clearly 35-year-old male CNN reporter dressed head to toe in Vineyard Vines runs by with a case of Natty*)
Undercover Male Reporter: WOOOOO! BROS! Let’s start a chant! Frat style! Black-people-suck! Black-people-suck! After we’re done chanting let’s talk about why we feel that way and shotgun some beers to celebrate! RAAAAGGGEEEE!
The undercover CNN reporter rumor seems unfounded. It’s doubtful any stranger would be able to weasel their way into one of these swaps with the houses on such high alert. Though rumor has it all the fraternities have the worst pledge class ever this year, so perhaps pledge incompetence would allow the reporters to sneak in. I could also see the Never Been Kissed scenario fully playing out. Eventually that female reporter would befriend the Pi Phis, meet a cute boy, and her hectic life would change for the better. Meanwhile, the 35-year-old David Arquette-esque male reporter would have a meteoric rise to the title of the biggest frat star on campus before being exposed and eventually becoming a respected house dad. CNN can’t risk losing such quality talent like that.
The truth is that most of the Alabama Greeks have no idea why the swaps were officially cancelled, because no official reason was ever given. According to one Alabama sorority girl I spoke with, UA Greek life usually prefers to leave its members in the dark, which is of course the darkest any of their members ever get.
As for the rationale, they provided none which is pretty common at UA.
I just don’t think that 35 year old reporters were walking around dressed up in 80s work out gear [the party theme clothing] or whatever.
It’s another Alabama “tradition” that everything is clouded in mystery… It’s also bullshit, but we often don’t here much in regards to stuff like that.
The more likely explanation as to why the swaps were cancelled is because the powers that be didn’t want any members getting excessively drunk and exacerbating the situation, either by committing general drunken dumbassery like crapping in a fountain or openly 69’ing in a quad that the CNN van is parked next to, or drunkenly running into a reporter and spilling damning info. According to another Alabama sorority girl, that was probably the case.
Another theory has it that…swaps were cancelled because they needed to cover their asses to make sure no one screwed up and made fools of themselves.
The last thing you want next to accusations of deep seated racism are a few charges of arson and indecent exposure. I don’t think I could stomach a lede that read, “Black ashes fall where a campus Subway once stood. They are the result of break-in committed by a nude and confused Alabama student, motivated by drunken hunger, and gone terribly wrong. Black ashes fall, dotting the campus, in stark contrast to the school’s pristine grounds. Black has always been a stark color on Alabama’s campus, from its integration in the 1960s to the three African-American women who braved the historically, and stubbornly, white sorority recruitment process this past August. Unfortunately, like the naked young man who left the Subway sandwich oven on and fell asleep as his meatball sub ignited an inferno, those women failed in their pursuit of something their community told them they could not have as well, and yet another firestorm has erupted.”
Someone in Tuscaloosa please go burn down a Subway near Alabama’s campus tonight so I can write the above passage for real and win a fucking Pulitzer. Being a reporter seems super easy. I mean, I’ve been acting like one all week, and unlike “real” journalists, I put in the extra effort of adding dick jokes and movie references to my stories. Stupid lazy journalists with their plain facts and lack of gratuitous genital references. Would it kill you to use a pooping metaphor when writing a story about bombing Syria!?!
While no one is quite sure whether or not CNN reporters were doing their best frat impressions to try to snake information from students, it is clear that the network sent its journalists to Tuscaloosa to get information any way they could, and by “any way” I mostly just mean blatant harassment of students, at least according to one Alabama sorority girl.
All I know about the CNN reporters is that there is one camped out at Little Hall harassing any girl wearing letters by taking pictures of them and running after them trying to get them to comment.
I’m having a hard time figuring out if it’s more undignified to dress up like an 18-year-old and sneak into a party or just flat out chase after college girls who are trying to go to class with a camera and microphone. Desert Storm seems so long ago, doesn’t it CNN? The irony that you’re harassing girls born after the network’s high water mark isn’t lost on this guy. At least we ’80s babies know CNN was once relevant. In the eyes of the Alabama students they may as well be getting harassed by one of Jay Leno’s street comedians, except with CNN there’s actually comedy, though it’s generally unintentional.
Another Alabama sorority girl claimed that reporters were spotted camping out and bothering students at a popular late night Tuscaloosa restaurant.
There were reporters that I do not know the affiliation of dressed in normal student clothing at a popular late night restaurant looking for people to try to talk to.
Have you no manners, national media? Did your parents never explain to you that it isn’t polite to discuss race at the dinner table? Even if that dinner table is a filthy booth and that dinner is a sloppy burrito that the person you’re speaking with is having trouble getting into his mouth because of how shitfaced he is? Rude is rude.
One thing is for sure, according to one sorority’s Facebook page, their senior members would greatly appreciate it if the girls would keep their mouths shut, whether it’s in front of desperate journalists or simply on Twitter, because on the streets of Old Row, snitches get stitches.
I would have gone with a cunt punt threat, personally.
Another rumor that popped up is that sorority new membership may be suspended. What that entails, I am not entirely sure, since the process of becoming a member in a sorority is far more informal, educational, and relaxed than the soul-crushing process that is fraternity pledgeship. I’m assuming no one is making any Alabama girls chug Popov and punching them in their baby makers until they puke. Man, that was a funny Thursday.
Despite this rumor being somewhat persistent, and the University of Alabama’s very recent suspension of fraternity pledgeship for much less actionable (see also: completely stupid) reasons, Alabama sorority members aren’t too concerned.
I do not think that new member period will be in jeopardy since our new member periods are only 9 weeks, legitimately do not include hazing or embarrassing rituals, and conclude so quickly. I do not believe there is any truth to that.
Almost every girl I spoke with expressed skepticism at that rumor, because they could not fathom how suspending an activity that is basically non-essential to membership (unlike fraternity pledgeship) would be a rational response on the university’s behalf. They all believed it would be a pointless and hollow gesture. This is, of course, exactly what leads me to believe the University of Alabama will suspend sorority new membership, because university PR teams specialize in irrational, pointless, and hollow gestures.
According to another tipster, perhaps in the vein of the cancelled swaps, fraternity pledging has been “suspended” through the weekend, presumably to ensure that Greeks don’t give the media anything else to write about.
fraternity pledgeship is actually suspended until monday- probably to avoid anything terrible happening and adding to the bad PR
I’ll admit, it’s definitely a lot harder to get a pledge drunk, rip his clothes off, duct tape him upside down to a tree, and watch him pee on his face with cable news reporters snooping around.
The most interesting rumor going around, however, is that one, if not both, of the black girls who did not originally receive a bid may be offered a snap bid from Alpha Gamma Delta, though it may not be for the best of reasons.
Alpha Gam is talking about giving the girl a snap bid if it’s still possible in order for the media to get off our backs
To be fair to Alpha Gam, they were one of the houses that were quite intent on signing one of the girls, so to say the house could be offering a snap bid just to quell the situation is flat out unfair. My guess is that, if a snap bid is offered to either girl, it’s less of a PR move and more of righting a blatant wrong, as well as a big, fat “Fuck you!” to their meddlesome alumnae advisors, who are terrified that the social standing of girls ten years their juniors will drop if a black girl were to receive a bid. I think we can all agree that Alabama alumnae advisors sound like a horrific cross between Regina George and pageant moms.
“IF WE DON’T GET TOP TIER SWAPS, I AM GOING TO DRIVE MY MIATA OFF A FUCKING CLIFF,” said the woman with an unfulfilling career and a mediocre sex life…and a Miata. That’s the trifecta of “your life blows.” Couple all of that with the fact that it’s happening in Alabama and, yeah, I’d probably be living vicariously through other people too. Don’t ever tell me I’m not empathetic.
Pi Phi may also consider a snap bid, should that be a viable option. Not only was Pi Phi the other main house that was interested in one of the black girls, but according to an anonymous source from inside Pi Beta Phi’s national office, “The Machine,” which is the pretend time illuminati that claims to run Alabama’s campus (real impressive guys, I put that roughly on par with owning a semi-successful chain of Arby’s), designated Pi Phi to be the house to bid one of the girls. The local alumnae, however, were having none of that, according to one Pi Phi.
…the actives wanted to pledge a black girl NOT because she was black but because they had a friendship based on mutual interests and activities, and the alumni used text messages, emails, and phone calls to intimidate members to stop. It even got to the point that an alumni CORNERED members during recruitment week and told them what would happen if we took this girl. Not cool at all, as you say ‘GODDAMNIT’
These alumnae advisors might be the most pathetic women on the planet. I’m fairly certain that if the sorority alumnae advisors somehow had the magical ability to turn all of the active members of their houses into little porcelain figures they could put on a shelf in their home, to fawn over and cuddle with and retreat to when they’re scared and lonely, like wide-eyed and awkward Karen Allen in the film adaptation of The Glass Menagerie, they would. I can imagine them crying and withdrawing to a happier place, little glass sorority girls in hand, whispering, “You’re so pre-tty. So, so pre-tty. Aren’t you? Yes you are.”
To the point though, why, if the secret social barometer of Alabama designated Pi Phi to be the house to finally bid a black girl, were the alumnae so against it? One would think that if appeasing The Machine was in the best interest of the house — and let’s dwell on how sad that sounds for a moment — that the grown women who advise the sororities of Alabama would advise the girls to do as The Machine says. Apparently, either 1) That’s all bullshit and no such designation was made, or 2) The Machine was full of shit.
they were going to pledge the black girl but every old row house called them and said they would never swap with them again if they did it. That includes fraternities and sororities.
It’s unclear if a snap bid will be offered or not, or if it’s even possible, but I hope one is offered. I hope that, but not because I am an advocate of forcing diversity, I’m very much against that. While diversity in itself is a strength, for private groups like fraternities and sororities it must be natural and organic. Standards should never be compromised, and race should never be a standard. It appears natural diversification (if you can call one black girl in a human Dixie blizzard “diverse”) would have and should have occurred in this instance, at least according to what we know about the two black PNMs and from what we have heard from countless Alabama sorority girls. I hope, however, the two girls who were initially declined bids accept any olive branch they are given, because they would clearly be assets to any house on that campus, and the Greek community as whole. To those two girls, if one or both of you receive snap bids, I urge you to accept them, in part, because you deserve it, and in part as a big “fuck you” to everyone who doesn’t think you belong there. Half the fun of winning is watching the other asshole lose, after all.
Also, it’s important to note that, while this is clearly a failure of the Greek system, it is a failure born mostly of its leadership, and the leaders of Alabama are clearly incompetent. Funny, it’s not often a bunch of tools hinder a machine. A few readers emailed to say that in my blaming of the alumnae I didn’t give enough credit to the overt racism of many active members of the Alabama sorority girls. I probably did not, and perhaps too I did not do enough to criticize the inaction of the seemingly decent yet scared or naive members of Alabama sororities. However, the resounding testimony from what I consider to be a perfectly representative cross section of Alabama’s sororities makes me believe that, for the vast majority of sorority members at Alabama, this is not what they want. They don’t want to discriminate. They also do not want to diversify. They mostly just don’t give a shit, like any decent American. The overwhelming majority have been of the opinion that, “If they’re fit for the house they’re fit for the house. If not, well, sorry. We don’t care what race they are.” That, to me, seems about the right attitude to have. I hope it’s as widespread as I believe it to be, though to be fair I’m a pretty naive guy. I’ve been stabbed by like seven hitchhikers, each one more crazy eyed than the last. Either way, as bad as this looks in the news, in my personal conversations I’ve seen nothing but encouraging attitudes.
According to a member of Pi Beta Phi, the fraternities, or at least their members, did not threaten to cancel swaps and social events with Pi Phi were they to bid one of the black PNMs. In fact, according to her, most fraternity men were okay with the idea.
correction to the information you have about us: every fraternity man on campus that was contacted said that it would be absurd if we thought we wouldn’t get any more swaps if we took the girl- they actually told us all that they thought it would be cool and make us look like great girls they want to hang out with instead of snobby bitches that don’t like black girls
So apparently, again, the bigotry and absurdity seems to be coming from one place, the leadership. The alumnae for certain, perhaps “The Machine” as well, though we’ll never know for sure what goes on in their super secret important meetings to decide who’s popular and hawt and who’s totes a fat loser who should just kill themselves because everyone hates them and they’re so annoying and fat. Either way, I’m really proud of the adults in this situation.
Again, thank you to all the girls who helped contribute to this story.