The HBO “Bama Rush” documentary has receieved ample press coverage, including a story by The Tuscaloosa News‘ Mark Hughes Cobb.
In a May 23, 2023 article, Cobb wrote:
The film’s trailer hinted at much of “Bama Rush”‘s flair: arrays of cameras displaying TikToks; crimson-and-white glamour at a Bryant-Denny night game; lovely imagery on and off campus; a slew of slow-motion running women; talk of power, status and prestige, about how boys rank sororities according to hotness; about top-tier sororities vs. bottoms; and how The Machine believes it controls everything, which this film’s completion, and streaming on premium service Max, calls into question.
Another recently released film (on Netflix ) Victim/Suspect also concerns campus life. Nancy Schwartzman’s documentary is about the efforts of the Center for Investigative Reporting‘s Rachel de Leon.
Daily Beast‘s Nick Schager reported, among other cases of alleged police misconduct, on the tragic story of University of Alabama Kappa Alpha Theta sorority member Megan Rondini. He wrote:
Schwartzman’s film argues that was the case with Megan Rondini, who in 2015 accused TJ Bunn Jr. (who hailed from a prominent local family) of rape, and was then charged with theft for taking cash from him for a post-assault taxi. Video from the interrogation room […] makes plain the stark difference between the cops’ handling of Rondini and Bunn Jr. In the aftermath of this ordeal, Rondini took her own life—citing the rape and cops’ bullying as the reasons.
When Rondini‘s suicide was reported in The Tuscaloosa News by the newspaper’s staff, there was a reference to a statement by the Bunn family which claimed that an “internet blog article” … “potentially defamed an honest man, a reputable family, and institutions that are the foundation of our community.”
The Buzzfeed article that the Bunn family’s statement referred to had claimed that the Rondini case “was mishandled by local law enforcement, medical providers and the University of Alabama.”
A full page ad in The Tuscaloosa News entitled “Character Assassination In The Internet Age” had been released by the Bunn family’s attorney as reported in the Daily Mail by Cheyenne Roundtree and Snejana Farberov. The ad asserted that the Rondini rape case “is now before the Court, and in an open court, ALL the evidence, the text messages, the statements she made, photographs on her phone, everything will be aired for consideration.”
An attorney for The Tuscaloosa News filed a motion for the release of investigative records from the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
When the texts were released, some were silly exchanges between Rondini and her sorority sisters. One urged Rondini to essentially “go for it.” What the texts show, more than any culpability of Rondini in her own rape, is the vacuous nature of thinking about sex that seemed to be shared by some in the Greek system.
As part of the outcome of the Rondini rape case, a civil suit against the University of Alabama was settled. A wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against TJ. Bunn Jr. was dismissed after a a settlement with the Rondini family had been reached.
But T-Town has seemingly yet to hear the last about the Rondini case, as demonstrated by its inclusion in the Netflix documentary on “bullying by cops.”
One thought on “The Other Story”
Al.com‘s John Archibald wrote about the Bama Rush documentary: “And the University of Alabama, the king of the SEC, where football and Greek life and systemic elitism just mean more, says nothing.
“There’s only one thing to take from it.
“The University repeatedly remains silent when confronted with evidence and perception that student life is dominated by a secret cabal of privileged and corrupt puppeteers.
“The University looks the other way at incident after incident. It makes no sound – other than to warn filmmakers to watch themselves – because propping up privilege is more lucrative, and more vital to this school than the success of its graduates.
“Because Alabama’s brand of politics requires a farm team for sleaze, a training ground, and the University of Alabama provides an MBA for dirty tricks.
“So of course this University does not want to acknowledge or destroy The Machine. Ultimately, the University of Alabama is The Machine.”