The University of Alabama has a unique dependency on the Greek system on campus. That may be why Greek mansions seem to dominate the campus’ landscape.
A post by Harrison Lee in Total Frat Move lists the University of Alabama as one of the top nine schools for Greek life in the United States:
A trip to Tuscaloosa is like visiting a Greek oasis. You’ll never have a bad time hanging out with these motherfuckers. Twenty-nine IFC fraternities and 18 Panhellenic sororities. They come from all over too, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama, Mississippi, etc., so you get a good mix of cultures and women.
Their gaudy houses match their gaudy lifestyles. Since 2005, twelve existing fraternity houses have been renovated or constructed. In fact, my boy Danny Regs had the opportunity to chat with Chancellor Witt during a visit. Witt went on to tell him that he wanted kids to come to Alabama for their Greek life. Having the support from your University’s Chancellor means that your Greek life is one of the best in the nation.
To be sure Alabama with 34 percent of the undergraduate student body affiliated with the Greek system is not among the schools with the most students who are Greeks. But the University is unique in the clout that Greeks weld.
The University’s Student Government Association (SGA) has been traditionally controlled by The Machine, an underground organization of traditionally white fraternities and sororities. Even when a black student who was not affiliated with The Machine was elected as SGA President, AL.com’s Melissa Brown reported in 2015 that he met resistance in appointing a Chief of Staff.
More recently a Greek sponsored candidate was elected as SGA President and was immediately embroiled in controversy. The following account of the resignation of the student elections board was given in Ben Flanagan’s AL.com article “Alabama SGA Elections Board resigns following historic presidential race”:
The University of Alabama’s Student Government Association Elections Board unanimously resigned this week, writing in an op-ed for The Crimson White that it can no longer be a “viable entity for ensuring fair elections” in the aftermath of the 2017 presidential election on campus.
“We believe there is no place for corruption, coercion or secrecy in democratic elections, and that our student leaders must be given a fair chance, through fair and legitimate elections, to create change on this campus,” the op-ed says. “Sadly, our experience as a Board has caused us to lose faith in the possibility of that fair chance.”
In the piece, called “Elections Board: Our Resignation Letter,” the group writes that the spring 2017 SGA election cycle presented “an unprecedented degree” of “dangerous disrespect” to the SGA democratic process.
It is difficult to imagine that the campus wide sanctions against Greeks which have recently taken place at Florida State University and the University of Michigan could occur at the University of Alabama.
Nick Roll in Inside Higher Ed posted:
The University of Michigan has suspended all social events for its fraternities and sororities. The move comes amid multiple reports of hazing and sexual assault.
About 1,000 miles away, Florida State University’s chapter of Pi Kappa Phi was ordered by its national chapter to cease operations and shut down. While police are still investigating the death of a fraternity pledge there, the national office of the fraternity has determined that the Florida State chapter had violated fraternity policies.
All Greek life at Florida State was suspended Nov. 6, following the pledge’s death.
Dominating the University of Alabama’s landscape are the huge Greek mansions that are located on state owned property that is leased to the Greek organizations for a nominal amount.
Likewise the Greeks seem to be dominating the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees and its Administration. That’s why a blind eye is turned on under-aged drinking on campus, in spite of the University’s strict policy on this activity. The lack of an immediate response from the University when The Machine was instrumental in electing a member of the local school board is also indicative of this dominance.
As Ed Enoch reported in The Tuscaloosa News:
Allegations of voter fraud and shady tactics by members of the University of Alabama Greek community in races for Tuscaloosa City Board of Education seats have inevitably sparked conversations about the Machine, a specter that has overshadowed campus politics for nearly a century.
The confederation of some white fraternities and sororities — whose existence is rarely acknowledged by its members — consistently turns out a Greek voting bloc for the candidates it backs.
The power to deliver Greek votes has allowed the Machine to dominate UA Student Government Association elections since the SGA’s founding in 1914.
Just as the University of Alabama’s football team will usually dominate its opponents. the Greeks on campus also hold sway over the University’s Board of Trustees and its Administration. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.