UA student honored for fight against discrimination - - The News for South Mississippi

UA student honored for fight against discrimination


University of Alabama senior Melanie Gotz is the recipient of a prestigious award for her efforts to shed light on discrimination at the university. Gotz never imagined she would be a part of history.

"I thought maybe it would just stay within the Greek system," Gotz said.

Allegations of discrimination among University of Alabama sororities came to light in September when UA's student newspaper, The Crimson White, reported a majority of the predominately white sororities, including Alpha Gamma Delta which is Gotz' sorority, rejected qualified African American candidates.

"I didn't want to put myself in that same category," Gotz told FOX 6 News. "I wanted to not be a coward and take the first step."

On Monday, FOX6 spoke to Gotz on the steps of the Rose Administration building where days after she spoke out, hundreds of students gathered to protest against discrimination holding a banner that read "The final stand at the school house door".

"We were under attack for a long time...the school was," Gotz said. "I think everyone knew for a long time all the problems that we had. But it wasn't until a significant article came out and the media all over our school, for everyone to be like this is the time that we need to do this."

In the wake, the university reopened bidding among sororities and for the first time ever, a handful of African American students received bids.

"To see them finally be served the justice they deserve was incredible," Gotz added.

Because of her courage to come forward, Gotz received the Horizon Award at Friday's "Realizing the Dream" banquet in Tuscaloosa, honoring people who contribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy.

Some believe Gotz is a 21st century foot soldier for her efforts to change a little of the culture at the University of Alabama.

"I hope the fire is lit on campus continues because it was a campus wide movement after the article came out," Gotz said.

It's interesting to note, at first Gotz told FOX6 News she didn't want to give her name to the Crimson White. After thinking it over, she decided she no longer wanted to live in the shadows of these issues.

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