Sororities Reject Student With Down Syndrome

September 24, 2018

AnnCatherine Heigl defied expectations when she was accepted into George Mason University’s highly competitive LIFE program, a full-time college program for intellectually disabled students. The college sophomore with Down syndrome also made the university’s Division I cheerleading team, serving as a flier.

But when Heigl rushed to join one of the university’s eight sororities, she wasn’t invited to join any of them, IndyStar reported.

Her older sister Lillie Heigl wrote to the head of Greek life to express her concern.

"Accepting a woman with a disability isn't an act of charity," she wrote, "it brings diversity and promotes inclusion. AnnCatherine in an athlete, she is a friend, she works hard in the classroom, she is funny and she is accomplished. She is the first collegiate cheerleader in the nation with an intellectual disability. I firmly believe that if a typical student had gone through recruitment, as a D1 cheerleader, they would have gotten a bid; but AnnCatherine wasn't extended one because she's a woman with a disability."

The Panhellenic Council issued a statement in response emphasizing its commitment to diversity and explaining that the council couldn't control whom sororities accepted.

"Panhellenic 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 posses the ability to dictate our chapters' membership or the process of selecting new members," the statement read.

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