Panelists discuss diversity at the University of Alabama


At the University of Alabama, race relations have been the center of debate. Tuesday night, a panel of university and civil rights leaders met to discuss desegregation on the campus. It's called "Through The Doors - The Untold Story of the Path to Diversity."{}Students and community leaders gathered tonight at the Bryant Conference Center for the Forum. While this was very much a discussion of the University's past, the panel said the lessons learned then, must be applied today.Earnestine Tucker remembers a thing or two about University history.{}"I remember the Sunday morning the cross was burned," Earnestine Tucker said.She's the first minority nurse practitioner in student health services at the University of Alabama. As a teenager- she marched with foot soldiers in Birmingham. Tucker - along with a panel of University leaders - gave a unique look at the stand in the schoolhouse door. 50 years ago, In 1963, Vivian Malone came to register for classes at these doors."That legacy of our past really has got to inform what we do from this point on," Stan Murphy, former UA Attorney said.Stan Murphy, a retired lawyer, represented Alabama in 1981 during the Alabama Higher Education Desegregation lawsuit.{}He said desegregation is an ongoing challenge.{}"Human nature being what it is, there is always an effort to be made," Murphy said. "It requires great vigilance from all of us."But the look at the University's past - led to discussion on the current role of diversity. In early September, students on campus alleged four "traditionally white" sororities did not allow two African-American students to pledge.{}"I think we had just forgotten about the fact that the sororities and fraternities are still very segregated and the thing that makes me feel good is that it became an issue for students," Tucker said. "Sometimes when students raise issues, they seem to get a little more action. The response is a little bit different than an adult. It's unfortunate it's happening. It's facing us and we have to deal with it."{}"Have we come a long way? Yes we have," Tucker said. "But we still have a ways to go."We've posted the charts on UA's minority enrollment in the right column.