Crowned by the Machine?


Ed Enoch reported in The Tuscaloosa News about charges that the Machine might have welded its power in the selection of the University of Alabama’s Home Coming Queen:

The Alpha Gamma Delta members were warned of the social and political consequences of publicly supporting Lindsay in place of Katsafanas, who is reportedly backed by the campus’ secretive organization of fraternities and sororities called the Machine, which has long dominated campus politics by successfully turning out a reliable voting bloc for candidates it selects.

On Thursday, the UA SGA Senate also approved a resolution condemning voter intimidation and suppression during its regular meeting. The resolution, which specifically referenced the allegations that the Alpha Gamma Delta members were pressured on how to vote, condemned any attempt at intimidation or suppression and called for corrective measures to be taken to ensure it doesn’t happen in future student elections.

How nostalgic! Interfering in student government elections and the vote for the Home Coming Queen is almost quaint.

The University’s Machine is better known these days for controlling who is elected by transient students in Tuscaloosa’s District 4. While arguably students might actually have a stake in who the Council Member for District 4 is, it’s a stretch that they would care about who sits on the local school board.

But wait! This isn’t really about the students at the University. This is about the students who are following the dictates of The Machine. Even though as many as 30% of the students attending the University are in Greek fraternal organizations, not all of them vote in a bloc according to the dictates of the Machine.

But even in campus politics a well orchestrated voting campaign by the Machine is effective. There is the same apathy about voting at he University as exists in municipal elections.

If the University Administration really cared about the abuse of the political process it could force the secretive Machine organization to reveal its leaders and take punitive actions against those involved in coerced voting. It could sanction fraternal groups that are the greatest abusers in the voting process. It could openly educate students that they, in order to be good citizens, should not tamper with local elections in the same way that campus voting is manipulated.

The Administration at the University of Alabama seems too fearful of opposing The Machine and the alumni who have ties to it. And Tuscaloosa’s political leadership would never criticize The University in a one-horse town.


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