Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Asst. News Editor
Graciousness, respect, intellect, connections and excellence. I truly felt a connection with this group of strong women, popularly known as Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and was under the impression that I had found my forever home and “sisterhood.” In the fall of 2019, I made the decision to participate in sorority recruitment at Rhode Island College. After just a day of partaking in the recruitment process, I quickly fell in love with Alpha Sigma Tau. Founded in 1899, Alpha Sigma Tau is supposedly a sorority that prides itself in their core values.
My time in Alpha Sigma Tau was extremely brief. In March of 2020, I was scrolling on Facebook when I saw one of my sisters had posted extremely racist and insensitive political posts. She had posted that systemic racism is just a myth. She had additionally posted things that stated her lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the overall support of minority people in this country. As soon as I had seen these posts, I was disgusted and immediately commented on them, sharing my beliefs and trying to get her to open her eyes to the harm of what she had said. I tried to kindly educate her, although she refused to fight her own fight, having her friends commenting back calling me a “libtard” and “uneducated.” The next day, I saw that the same girl had posted politically insensitive TikToks wearing her sorority letters. At this point, I had enough and decided to take further action.
It wasn’t long until these posts began generating attention. Not only were these posts insensitive to people of color, additionally they did not represent the beliefs of Alpha Sigma Tau. The posts were screenshotted and began circulating on social media. Alpha Sigma Tau at RIC was now labeled a racist organization by the Twitter community. Me and roughly 15 other girls knew that we had to do something about this. Not only did these posts impact the image of our sorority, but they were disgusting and did not represent the beliefs of our sorority, or so I thought.
The President of Alpha Sigma Tau gave little to no assistance in this fight; she provided us with radio silence. As for the rest of the executive board, only three of the girls decided to show us any attention in taking care of this issue. At this point, girls were saying they weren’t going to rush our sorority, which truly broke my heart. I thought to myself, “Why is nobody doing anything about this? Don’t they care about being labeled as a racist organization? We need to do better than this.” At this point, we had heard close to nothing from our executive board or the girl who had written these posts.
Fifteen members of Alpha Sigma Tau banded together and attempted to remove the girl from our organization in order to stand for our beliefs. We did not want somebody who denied the existence of systemic racism in our organization, as that is not what we stood for. However, when we tried to get more attention paid to this situation, the national administrators did not support us. In fact, they got us in trouble by saying we were bullying this girl. They refused to remove the individual that was in the wrong. They put our sorority on probation and threatened to kick us off campus.
At the time, the social media manager of Alpha Sigma Tau posted a picture in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She had stated that the actions of one girl did not reflect the beliefs of the entire organization, however, nationals told us to remove it. Our national headquarters did not once show support for the Black Lives Matter movement on their own platform of over 10,000 people. In addition, our advisors were quite politically biased during this situation, having agreed upon the fact that the posts were not offensive, and a post on Instagram to clear up rumors and show support was not permitted. It is quite hypocritical that a specific member of the organization was permitted to post racially offensive things, but we could not show outward support for one of the largest social justice organizations in our society today. This confirmed that Alpha Sigma Tau is racially insensitive, not socially aware, and additionally provided our sisters and other people of color with a disgusting lack of support for this cause.
Over the course of two weeks, the sorority had about four meetings over Zoom to discuss this issue. The executive board did not listen to us when we expressed our concern for this situation. Finally, we had enough and contacted our alumni. The alumni connections in Alpha Sigma Tau are extremely weak; however, multiple alumni decided to stand with us and stood up for us to make us feel heard. We had another meeting with our alumni and then the executive board realized that we meant business. It was truly hurtful that the executive board refused to listen to us over something we're all so passionate about. The alumni continually restated everything that we had previously said, however, the only difference is that they were listened to. To this day, I am so thankful for the alumni that went out of their busy lives to help us.
The organization's president is still silent at this time. She had left nearly every zoom meeting early, that is if she even bothered to show up. She had put the majority of the responsibility onto the vice president, who expressed extreme concern over this issue at the time. We continually fought to get this girl removed from the organization, however, the president, executive board and our board of national advisors refused. They requested absolutely nothing of her, did not require she attend any of the zoom meetings or reach out to anybody during this time. We had to handle an entire situation about her, without her. The executive board continued to show little concern for this issue, as there was no pressure placed on the individual to correct her wrongs. Instead, we were pressured by our national advisors to issue this girl an apology, which everybody opted not to do. I personally refused to apologize for being disgusted by her insensitive posts, and found that an apology was more necessary coming from her.
At this point, we had enough. We had been fighting this issue for weeks and still had little to no information on the status of the situation. Everyone who had supported the cause had decided to drop the sorority, because we refused to be a part of an organization that supported and harbored a racist and insensitive individual. Before we had come to the conclusion that we had wanted to drop, we threatened our executive board that we would leave if this issue was not resolved. They seemed to be unphased by this and continued to show a lack of concern over this issue, despite being well aware that we were willing to take drastic measures in order to stand up for our beliefs. Over half of the members of Alpha Sigma Tau left the sorority, leaving them with about ten girls. We all wrote our resignation letters, submitted them simultaneously and the rest is history.
The fact that Alpha Sigma Tau chose to lose over half of their most active and valued members is so entirely beyond me, I still cannot believe it. After the situation conspired, they did not kick out the girl, she dropped on her own time. This was truly disgusting and shocking to me because it is apparent that they support her racist and insensitive values.
Once the next recruitment season started, Alpha Sigma Tau was up for a challenge. They had to host recruitment having lost the majority of their members with rumors circulating around sorority life about the entire situation. Multiple girls who rushed this semester stated that when they specifically asked about the racism scandal and why so many girls dropped, the current acting president had told them we dropped because we were “overwhelmed” by the situation, not that we dropped because the executive board was taking the side of a racist and insensitive individual. Not only did the president lie to those who were curious enough to ask a necessary question, she continually downplayed the situation and left those girls in the dark about the real reason behind everything. Everybody is entitled to their own political opinion, but when that political opinion invalidates the long history of racial injustice in this country, that is when I draw the line.