According to a report by WVTM-TV’s Meredith Armstrong the operatives for the University of Alabama’s Machine conducted their own little reign of terror during the recent Student Government Association elections. She reported:
Some University of Alabama students say they don’t feel safe after receiving threats because of their involvement in Student Government Association campaigns. Students say members of a secret underground group known as The Machine have been harassing and threatening them after students openly supported SGA candidates that opposed Machine supported candidates.
“Things have been posted anonymously saying that they should burn our building down or someone said we should bring down a storm on Mallet. You know we’re not comfortable sleeping on the first floor of this building right now because we don’t know what people are going to do,” said Lexis Doland, a member of The Mallet Assembly.
But the students say the back lash against those who didn’t support The Machine backed candidates didn’t stop there. Madelyn Dukes says her phone number was used to create a personal ad on Craigslist for “women seeking men.”
“With the way that people have taken this just a step too far doesn’t show that their track record is necessarily trusting in my safety from here on out,” she said.
During the day Tuesday, Dukes says she and other students supporting presidential candidate Justin Thompson were yelled at, spit on, and cursed out. Students say most of the name calling, harassment, and threats they received happened along the Crimson Promenade near the Ferguson Student Center on campus.
Thompson says he expected some of the backlash because of his homosexuality. “It wasn’t completely unexpected, but the jokes I just think people are uncomfortable with it. They don’t appreciate others sexuality, different types of people,” he said.
Others who openly supported Thompson for president say their phone numbers were posted on Craigslist adds for cars and video game systems, which raked in dozens of calls. “It was really kind of an indirect, indirect harassment by whomever put the numbers up,” said Jesse Davis, one of Thompson’s supporters.
The Machine has never been terribly concerned about any niceties in its behavior, whether in conducting campus elections or meddling in Tuscaloosa municipal elections.
University of Alabama Law Faculty member Paul Horwitz commented on a scheduled meeting of The Senate Task Force for Excellence in Equality, Inclusion, and Citizenship at the University. He was concerned about the lack of participation by students affiliated with The Machine in previous Task Force meetings. He said, “The lack of public Machine or Old Row participation signals their unwillingness to take these issues seriously and puts the obligation on the university and its faculty to do what these young people are unwilling or unable to do. Lack of public Machine participation also sends loudly and clearly the message that if the Machine is unable to acknowledge its existence and account for its actions, it needs to either be brought into the open or shut down. And, again, to the extent that the theme or through-line is one of transparency and accountability…”
Since the administration of the University of Alabama seems to have been more receptive to complaints by alumni that their children are being besmirched by unfavorable publicity than those about student misbehavior from faculty or residents of Tuscaloosa it is doubtful that the Task Force will curb the unethical and immoral tactics of The Machine. The Machine lurks like the Hogwarts giant squid off the shore where the Crimson Tide rolls in. Just how far the tentacles of The Machine go into the University’s Board of Trustees and Administration will probably never be known.