As students with intellectual disability access higher education, they are joining in all aspects of campus social life. At Union University in Tennessee, four young women with intellectual disability have received bids to join two of the national sororities on campus: Zeta Tau Alpha, and Kappa Delta.
The students are part of Union's EDGE Program, an initiative that includes students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the university. A third sorority, Chi Omega, also offered bids to EDGE Program students.
Previously, the national chapters of Union's sororities had not offered bids to students with intellectual disability, said Jennifer Graves, who directs the EDGE Program. This was due to concerns about the students' safety in unsupervised situations.
After discussing these concerns with the EDGE Program and its students, the Union chapters of the three sororities invited EDGE students to take part in their pledging process.
"I am proud of each student and each organization's efforts," Graves wrote in an email to friends of the EDGE Program. "They went the extra mile to learn about the individual girl and what might best serve them. My message to each group was that we want you to love and accept our students, but if you cannot, please cut them [from the pledging process]... We are here to be productive and equal members of the organization."