Following recent allegations of racial discrimination within the Greek system at the University of Alabama, one of the majority white sororities has elected an African-American president for the first time in history.
Sigma Delta Tau, a historically Jewish sorority, elected 22-year-old engineering student, Hannah Patterson, who joined the organization one year ago according to WBRC-TV.
“We’re welcoming of any girl that wants to join our chapter and best fits our chapter,” Regina Broda, who was president before Patterson, explained to the campus paper The Crimson White.
“We were founded by seven Jewish women because they, in 1917, couldn’t find a home. They were discriminated against. They weren’t allowed into sororities. Sigma Delta Tau nationally does not discriminate because it goes completely against our founding principles.”
In the spring of 2011, Delta Tau accepted its first Black member and since then has initiated three other African-American women. Patterson was recruited to the organization through informal recruitment, after she was unable to find a fit during formal recruitment.
Patterson says she is honored to take the position but insists race never crossed her mind during the process, she just wanted to help her sorority.
“I never saw color or race or ethnicity. It’s never been in the front of my mind,” said Patterson. “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.”
Her sisters in the sorority also say that Patterson’s race did not impact their decision to elect her as president, she simply was an active member who proved her leadership capabilities.
“We know that Hannah is going to be the best for the future of our chapter at this time,” said Erinn Forbes, a member of Sigma Delta Tau. “That has nothing to do with her ethnicity, but it is definitely a really cool thing. I think our chapter is happy to be a part of the change that’s going to be happening here.”