Spare Some Southern Change?

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It seemed as if the University of Alabama had turned a corner when its newly elected Student Government Association President Elliot Spillers proclaimed: “The entire Machine is not a bad organization. It took members within that organization to stand beside me and go against the grain and get me elected to this office. Just like the rest of us on campus, they’re ready for change. They’re ready for an inclusive environment on campus.”  Spillers was the first African-American elected to the position in four decades.

But Spillers has found that his power is limited by that same Machine that he had high hopes for. An editorial in the University of Alabama student newspaper The Crimson White opined: “The first black SGA president in nearly 40 years has had his first nomination blocked by the Senate. Those outside of the University of Alabama will not fail to note that this happened at an institution with a history of racial discrimination. This is nothing new for the University and the state of Alabama, but bad publicity has often brought much-needed change when the few stood in the way of the many.

“We also feel it is ridiculous that the chief of staff to the SGA president must be approved by the Senate at all. Even the President of the United States of America does not have to have his or her chief of staff approved by Congress. Moving forward, the SGA should amend the constitution and code of laws so the president can appoint his or her choice for chief of staff, with or without the support of the Senate.

“That this was one of the first actions of the new Senate bodes poorly for the year to come. We hope the Senate fixes their mistake and approves Spillers’ choice for chief of staff. The student body, after all, elected him to lead and he should be allowed to do so. For their part, senators should remember that they were elected to represent all students, not their own interests.”

Tyler Kingkade in the Huffington Post reported: “The University of Alabama’s Student Government Association Senate voted Tuesday against appointing Chisolm Allenlundy to be chief of staff to the newly elected student president. A student group focused on reforming on-campus politics alleges that the Machine, a secret society that controls much of the school’s student government, influenced the decision.

“In a 32-13 vote, Senate members blocked Allenlundy from taking the highest position in SGA President Elliot Spillerrs’ cabinet. Virtually all of the votes opposing Allenlundy were from Machine-backed senators, the student group, United Alabama Project, claims.”

In the Deep South, particularly at The University of Alabama, often blacks are hailed as football heroes but when it comes to empowering blacks and other minorities that is another thing entirely. In Alabama, where many people resent that a black occupies The White House, the search for inclusiveness in any form will continue.

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