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'Unwanted and Devastated': Sororities Reject Down Syndrome Student

10-03-2018

A student with Down syndrome at George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia, didn't get a callback from any sorority, prompting her sister to claim AnnCatherine Heigl was the victim of discrimination.

The College Fix reports no sorority invited Heigl to join during recruitment. Heigl is a sophomore at George Mason and is a flyer for the school's Division I cheer team.

According to the news outlet, she is attending the school as part of its Mason LIFE Program, which the university's website states is "an innovative post-secondary program for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who desire a university experience in a supportive academic environment."

AnnCatherine's sister, Lillie, tweeted, "My sister who has Down syndrome went through @GMUPanhellenic sorority recruitment this weekend and her experienced has left her feeling unwanted and devastated."

 

 

Lillie attached a letter to the tweet, sharing her frustration.

"I firmly believe that if a typical student had gone through recruitment, as a D1 cheerleader, they would have gotten a bid; I believe AnnCatherine wasn't extended a bid because she's a woman with a disability," she wrote.

"I would like you to know that she is hurt and disappointed and that as a member of the greater Greek community and as a Panhellenic woman, I too am hurt and disappointed that inclusion didn't happen," Lillie shared later in the letter.

Lillie said she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta at the University of Missouri.

The George Mason University College Panhellenic released a statement on the release of AnnCatherine:

"This past weekend, it was brought to the Panhellenic Executive Council's attention that a student in the MasonLife program was released from our Formal Panhellenic Recruitment process. Over the past year, we have placed an emphasis on ensuring that George Mason's values of diversity and inclusion are a priority for our Panhellenic community."

"Panhellenic's Formal Recruitment is a mutual selection process, and as the overseeing council we manage the process and enforce policies that have been decided on and approved by our member organizations. However, we do not possess the ability to dictate our chapters' membership or the process of selecting new members. As a council that promotes inclusivity, we recognize that people have been harmed by the decisions of our members, and we are committed to engaging all communities in dialogue on these issues to do better in the future."

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