“I’m Gonna Yack…Cigs, Weed & Black Girl”

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In December, 2021, the University of Alabama once again had found itself in the headlines over the racist behavior of members of its Greek community.

A December 11, 2021, article in the University of Alabama student newspaper The Crimson White by Ainsley Platt had reported that the President Katherine Anthony of the Alpha Phi sorority and another of its members Kylie Klueger had been ousted from membership. The sorority, founded in 1872, was the fourth oldest national women’s sorority.

Platt wrote that the sorority’s president Anthony had texted from inside a Tuscaloosa bar: “I’m gonna yack, it smells so bad in here.” Klueger had responded, “cigs, weed and black girl.”

AL.com‘s Ruth Serven-Smith had reported that the racist incident involving a sorority had been “the third to go public in recent years.”

Even the New York Post had covered the story. Joshua Rhett Miller had written that some of Alpha Phi members had “told the newspaper anonymously they plan to leave Alpha Phi” because of the incident.

A Franklin Stove Blog post “Built by Bama” on January 18, 2018, posed the question: “Is racist behavior at the University largely a product of its segregated Greek system.”

In 2019, Al.com‘s Abby Crain had written about the “significant strides” that had occurred at the University of Alabama in combating racism. Still its Greek system had remained virtually segregated.

Time magazine’s Cady Lang wrote about how RushTok had amplified University of Alabama sororities’ problems with racism:

The obsession with RushTok, however, also serves as a cogent reminder of the longtime critiques of the racism, elitism and sexism embedded in many Greek life organizations. In universities across the U.S., sororities and fraternities have faced reckonings in the wake of hazing violence, sexual assault and even death. In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, several students and alumni across the nation at multiple schools called for reform when it came to racial discrimination in Greek life, which, as TikTok user Cedoni Francis noted in a viral video, is based on being exclusionary, often along race and class lines. Some former Greek life participants went so far as to leave their fraternities and sororities in protest, while other organizations were disbanded entirely.

Historical Transactions, a blog established as part of the commemoration of the Royal Historical Society’s 150th Anniversary, posted about how the Greek system was “racially problematic.” The post said that “‘Greek Life’ is a distinctive part of the social and cultural experience of universities in the United States, and has faced recent scrutiny for acts of racism, sexism and homophobia.”

The blog provided historical background on Greek organizations:

In 1909, a member of the Kappa Alpha Order (KA) – one of the oldest Greek-lettered societies that idolises the supposed ‘gentlemanly’ values of Confederate general Robert E. Lee – wrote a dispatch in the fraternity’s journal about his time visiting Cornell. This was the university where the first intercollegiate Black fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) had been founded three years earlier. Alluding to his fraternity’s white supremacist values, the KA member expressed surprise that Cornell’s white students had not demanded segregated gymnasiums, since it was in these spaces that ‘the contact [between the races] was most offensive.’ Historically, KA members performed minstrelsy at fraternity events, openly idolised the Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan, and flew the Confederate battle flag at half-mast in defiance of court-ordered racial integration.

Vox‘s Maryam Gamar wrote about students who had experienced Greek racism on campus. He interviewed Emily Shiroff who had attended Vanderbilt University:

It’s intimidating because those in Greek life are the most powerful students on campus. It’s like an extension of high school — the same social hierarchy exists. Girls who were in the popular cliques join sororities, and guys who were on the football team join frats. They have money, social capital, and influence, so it can be scary.

I think abolishment is possible. At a school like Vanderbilt, it’s going to depend on how educated the incoming freshmen are about the problems inherent in Greek life. But there will always be schools where people don’t really care about the issues that they’re perpetuating.

The Greek system at the University of Alabama had always been thought by many people to be too big to abolish. According to the university’s division of student life: “With over 10,000 students, the UA Greek community comprises 35 percent of the undergraduate student body and is home to 68 social Greek-letter organizations. Since Fall 2011, The University of Alabama has held the coveted honor of being the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation with regard to overall fraternity and sorority membership.”

Outbreaks of racism at the university had been accepted by many as an inevitable part of the Greek tradition, as much as Alpha Phi‘s “fragrant Lily of the Valley and the blue and gold Forget-Me-Not” had always been.


Deaths by Greek Life

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Kalhan Rosenblatt with NBCNews reported on November 28, 2021 that a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 20 year-old student died of brain injuries after he took part in a boxing match held by a fraternity.

A lawyer for the student’s family released a statement: “We will leave no stone unturned to determine how a 20-year-old ended up in a school-sanctioned amateur fight that cost him his life.”

Such a story about the death of a Greek student would be an anomaly. Many of the deaths that have occurred on campuses had been the result of “hazing.”

NBCNewsBen Kesslen wrote: “Since 2000, there have been more than 50 hazing-related deaths. The causes are varied — heatstroke, drowning, alcohol poisoning, head injury, asphyxia, cardiac arrest — but the tragedies almost always involve a common denominator: Greek life.”

Many of the deaths that Wikipedia had attributed to “hazing” have involved the misuse of alcohol, such as in the case of “an 18-year old pledge from Roswell, Georgia, [who] was taken to the hospital after an alleged drinking game hazing ritual known as ‘Bible Study’. He was pronounced dead the same day.”

The University of Alabama has had a strict policy against “hazing.” In spite of that, throughout the years hazing had persisted on campus.

In 2012, Ashley Chaffin wrote in The Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama, about a “culture of hazing.” In 2012, WBRC/6‘s Brianne Denleyn reported that “the university had suspended all fraternity pledgeship activities after hazing allegations were made against 10 fraternities.”

In 2015 AL.com‘s Jeremy Gray‘s article “University of Alabama hazing case: Students suffered burns, told to ‘man up,’ records state” provided details about a hazing incident that had involved pledges being told to stand in a cooler filled with ice.

A 2017 documentary “The Naked Truth” by Fusion TV featured the University of Alabama‘s Greek system. The film dealt with hazing and underage alcohol consumption.

The Crimson White‘s Madison McLean reported in 2019 that the “University of Alabama’s Greek community hosted an anti-hazing event in September called ‘Turning Tragedy into Progress.'”

My Imperfect Life‘s Danielle Valente on August 17, 2021, posted “Inside the dangers of sorority hazing” about the University of Alabama‘s Greek life that had included viral TikTok clips.

Cornell University Health’s “Alcohol & Hazing: Liquid Bonding,” stated: “While hazing does not necessarily involve alcohol use by either current or new members, alcohol consumption is often either a central or contributing element.”

Stetson University, in its “Facts and Myths,” stated that “82 percent of deaths from hazing involve alcohol.”

Tuscaloosa‘s City Council has routinely approved liquor licenses for Greek events. It may have seemed that it had bent over backwards so that a sorority field party could be held in November 12, 2021.

Any kind of idea about banning the Greek community from the University of Alabama campus had never been popular. The likelihood of significantly reducing underaged drinking had also always seemed to be an unreachable goal. (Alcohol sales to students may have been a significant revenue producer for the City of Tuscaloosa.)

Doubtlessly hazing involving alcohol abuse would remain a fixture of life in T-Town.


Some do. Some don’t?

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At the University of Alabama men’s basketball game that had occurred on November 19, 2021, officials on the court had not been wearing masks. During the women’s basketball game, that had occurred two days earlier, court officials had been wearing masks. At both games masks had been worn by people seated at the scorer’s table, where the official scorers and official statisticians sat.*

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) had published guidelines for basketball games that recommended that “all individuals, regardless of role or function, always wear a mask/face covering prior to entry and within the competition venue.”

Alabama basketball superfan Luke “Fluffopotamus” Ratliff, who had died due to complications related to Covid-19, had been honored at a game on November 9, 2021. The University of Alabama had on November 5, 2021, decreed that face coverings will no longer be required for fully vaccinated individuals. Most basketball fans had not worn masks at games at the season opening double-header on November 9th and during subsequent games.

Throughout the country, including at the University of Alabama, there had been an epidemic of influenza at college campuses. The University of Michigan (U-M) had joined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an attempt to better understand “how this flu season may unfold regionally and nationally in the setting of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The U-M’s Vice President for Communications Dana Elger published a statement that said that “any of the same tools used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent the spread of flu. In addition to wearing a mask and getting vaccinated.”

It had long been thought that mask wearing would have likely reduced the transmission of the flu virus. The National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2010 published “The Effect of Mask Use on the Spread of Influenza During a Pandemic.” The CDC had issued guidance on the use of face masks to control seasonal influenza viruses.

CNBC‘s Cory Stieg wrote, “Many people are more lax now about wearing masks and social distancing compared with last year, which could lead to an earlier and more dangerous flu season.”

Had Crimson Tide hoop fans been walking into a petri dish of influenza viruses at Coleman Coliseum? Had this contributed to the campus influenza outbreak or, even worse, to more Covid-19 infections? Would the continuation of the indoor mask wearing policy at the University of Alabama have been particularly helpful in preventing exposure to viruses at basketball games?

U-M’s Elger had written: “The timing of the increase in cases comes as many U-M students prepare to depart from campus to destinations across the country and globe as individuals return to their permanent residences for the Thanksgiving break.”

Would there have been, along with turkey and pumpkin pies, infectious viruses at tables in T-Town and throughout the nation on Thanksgiving 2021?

*Attempts to reach out to representatives of the University of Alabama basketball departments to determine why only some officials had been wearing masks had not been successful.


Better Wear Facemasks?

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On November 12, 2021 a specially called meeting of Tuscaloosa’s City Council was held. An event–the BWF Fall Event –which, according to Council President Kip Tyner, would be a “UA Greek event that was inadvertently left off last Tuesdays agenda.”

When asked, Antonius Mills, a Senior Revenue Officer with the city’s Revenue and Financial Services Division, didn’t know what BWF stood for or who the Greek organization that was holding the event would be. The information had not been listed on the application by Downtown Entertainment LLC. All that the department representative knew, when an inquiry had been made, was that the event would be a field party on Joe Mallisham Parkway hosted by a “University of Alabama fraternity.” During the party they have would have “certain times allotted for each class” and participants would be bused to the event. (The event actually would likely have been a sorority party. Sororities must hold any large party off-campus since their houses don’t have adequate facilities.)

An earlier attempt in August, 2021, to hold a party (Kappa Alpha Theta sorority’s “Back to School Party”) on the farmland located off of Mallisham Parkway had failed. Downtown Entertainment LLC had asked that the application for the special events license be withdrawn before the Council vote. An even earlier attempt (the Kappa Delta Farm Party) in November, 2020, had failed as well.

On November 10, 2021, Tuscaloosa‘s City Clerk sent a media meeting notice announcing the November 12, 2021, Special Called City Council meeting, including a council resolution.

Resolution put before the Council:

The Specially Called meeting had lasted only three minutes. Only four Council members had been present. ( Kip Tyner, John Faile, Norman Crow, and Matthew Wilson) Council President Tyner had asked if there were any statements from the members. “Anything going on this weekend you want to talk about?” Several had then answered, “Roll Tide.”

None of the Council members had asked what BWF stood for or which organization was sponsoring the event. The city’s Antonius Mills, with the city’s Accounting and Finance department, had initially presented information on the application. Only Brandon Hanks of Downtown Entertainment LLC had been questioned. Council President Kip Tyner had asked him if participants in the event would bused to the event. Hanks had answered that transportation would be on nine buses. Then Tyner had asked Hanks if he had been aware of the kickoff time of the Alabama football game. “Just a side note, what time on Saturday do you expect it?…eleven am kickoff…terrible.” He then had wished Hanks “best of luck.” The resolution had then been unanimously passed.

The University of Alabama on November 4, 2021, had updated its Campus Health and Safety guidelines. Masks would no longer be required to be worn by fully vaccinated individuals. However masks would still be required for all individuals on campus buses.*

The third time had turned out to be the “charm” for the field party. The cows had come home. (Whether any cows actually were grazing in the field, along with the herd of students at the party was actually uncertain.)

Whether masks would be required on the buses for the BWF Fall Event was not stipulated. BWF likely didn’t stand for Better Wear Facemasks. (Other BWF abbreviations include Bi-Sexual White Female and Band-Wagon Fan.)

* The scientific basis for the University’s decision on facemasks might have been considered dubious. The Lancet published an article about how vaccinated people can still spread the virus:

Vaccination reduces the risk of delta variant infection and accelerates viral clearance. Nonetheless, fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts. Host–virus interactions early in infection may shape the entire viral trajectory.

And the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had warned that in areas where there were low vaccination rates the wearing of masks was advisable:

Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe disease, and death is reduced for fully vaccinated people. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 infection. Fully vaccinated people who do become infected can transmit it to others. Therefore, fully vaccinated people can further reduce their risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and transmitting it to others by wearing a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high community transmission.


Honoring the fallen fan “Fluffopotamus”

AmLife Facemask

AmLife Facemask

Could Alabama basketball superfan Luke “Fluffopotamus” Ratliff have been looking down from heaven during the Crimson Tide‘s opening basketball game?

In the Tuscaloosa News, Daniella Medina reported that: “Alabama basketball will honor Ratliff, who died April 2 of complications related to COVID-19, at its season opening double-header on Nov. 9 with a tribute and the presentation of a plaid jacket to the new Crimson Chaos president, the university said in a press release. The tradition will continue in Ratliff’s honor.”

Basketball fans might have better honored Ratliff by wearing plaid face masks.

The Crimson White‘s (CW) Ainsley Platt wrote that on November 5, 2021, that the University of Alabama would no longer require masks for vaccinated individuals on campus. Platt wrote:

While many students celebrated the announcement, some faculty members voiced concerns. Rebecca Britt, an associate professor in the College of Communication and Information Sciences, pointed out the difficulty of enforcing a mask mandate that only applies to those who are unvaccinated.

“I don’t approve of the mask mandate being lifted,” Britt said. “UA states that unvaccinated individuals will still be required to wear a mask indoors or during outdoor activities with close contact, but how will they be checking that? It’s not been clear from the University what the guidance is on that. Although I’m vaccinated, I’ll still be wearing a mask, because I’m not confident in the University’s policies, and I feel I need to do my small part in protecting community health.”

62% of the university’s students had, as of November 1, 2021, received at least one dose. (The percentage of fully vaccinated students at the University of Alabama had not been provided on the University of Alabama System‘s dashboard.) The state of Alabama‘s legislature had outlawed “vaccination passports” on May 17, 2021, as reported by Associated Press‘s Kim Chandler. Basketball fans had been allowed to forgo masks on a good faith basis.

Even while masks had been required to be worn indoors at the university, some students may not have complied. In Platt‘s CW article a student was quoted as having said about the new policy: “I’m excited about it. I think it was past due, and a lot of people in my classes stopped wearing them anyway, so even my teachers were not wearing them. It was tiring to have to remember to carry a mask around.”

The scientific basis for the University’s decision might have been considered dubious. The Lancet published an article about how vaccinated people can still spread the virus:

Vaccination reduces the risk of delta variant infection and accelerates viral clearance. Nonetheless, fully vaccinated individuals with breakthrough infections have peak viral load similar to unvaccinated cases and can efficiently transmit infection in household settings, including to fully vaccinated contacts. Host–virus interactions early in infection may shape the entire viral trajectory.

And the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had warned that in areas where there were low vaccination rates the wearing of masks was advisable:

Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe disease, and death is reduced for fully vaccinated people. However, since vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, some people who are fully vaccinated will still get COVID-19 infection. Fully vaccinated people who do become infected can transmit it to others. Therefore, fully vaccinated people can further reduce their risk of becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 and transmitting it to others by wearing a mask indoors in public in areas of substantial or high community transmission.

As few as 45% of Alabama‘s residents had been fully vaccinated. According to CovidActNow, Alabama was a high risk state.

Many universities had been requiring measures to mitigate exposure at basketball games. Schools that had been requiring proof of vaccinations or mask wearing included Gonzaga, Duke, Xavier, UNLV, St. Bonaventure, Vanderbilt, Nevada and Wichita State.

The Nashville Post‘s Michael Gallagher wrote that at Vanderbilt “either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (or negative antigen test) at least 72 hours before each game will be required for entry to any men’s or women’s basketball games for fans age 12 and older.”

Louisville fan Ed Rosen said in an article by the Louisville Courier Journal‘s Hayes Gardner that he would wear a mask in Yum Center:

“It’s too chancy,” he said of packed crowds, particularly indoors. “When you’re sitting in a crowd like that, with people right up on you, not knowing whether they’ve been vaccinated, not knowing whether they’re asymptomatic or anything else, and they’re screaming and yelling … I just don’t feel that that’s a chance that’s appropriate for me to take.”

Perhaps enshrining Ratliff’s former seat in Coleman Coliseum had been an appropriate way to honor Luke Ratliff? As far as mask wearing was concerned, few fans wore masks. But several fans sported plaid jackets. Having taken steps to prevent the spread of Covid would’ve been much more of a tribute to its loyal fan.


Cheating–A Capstone Tradition?

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At the University of Alabama–when it comes to the game of campus politics–usually The Machine has the best hand. Many might call this cheating.

To many the choice of 2021’s Homecoming Queen seemed to be involved with such cheating.

Ironically the theme for the 2021 Homecoming was “Together We Rise,” “recognizing the collective spirit of the tide.” There did seem to be a collective disappointment over the selection of the Homecoming Queen.

As Bama Central‘s Katie Windham reported, the crowd at the Homecoming Pep Rally was disappointed when Montana Fouts was not crowned. Windham wrote:

The most anticipated moment of the night, the announcement of homecoming queen, was dragged out until over an hour into the pep rally. 

To the disappointment of a large portion of the crowd, Alabama softball pitcher Montana Fouts did not win homecoming queen. Instead the honor went to Tuscaloosa’s McLean Moore. The election was decided via votes from the student body on Tuesday. 

Any football fan who went to the Homecoming game on October, 23, 2021, would have noticed that during the halftime presentation of the Homecoming Court that the runner up Fouts was enthusiastically applauded by the crowd, whereas the actual Queen got obligatory clapping. One person said that, “Every time the stadium camera zoomed in on Montana, the crowd went crazy.”

After the campus newspaper, The Crimson White (CW), printed articles that challenged the propriety of the victory of a Machine endorsed candidate, Vice President for Student Life Myron Pope sent an email to the student body claiming that there is no basis for the election to be contested or overturned. Pope said that he contacted the campus newspaper’s editor although the CW’s Assistant News Isabel Hope editor wrote that he did not “discuss the contents of his email with The CW before sending it to the student body.”

Cheating? Naw! Not according to the Elections Board…

The Crimson White‘s Isabel Hope and Kayla Solino reported on the outcome of a Student Government Association Elections Board meeting that took place at the beginning of November.

The Elections Board ruled that “insufficient evidence was found to substantiate the allegations” that the Homecoming Queen election was fatally flawed.

In the CW article a “sit-in” protest that occurred on November 1st was also reported: “On Monday, the day before the Elections Board released its statement, more than 50 students attended a sit-in at the SGA Office on Monday to protest the actions of the Elections Board throughout homecoming week, including a timeline error that invalidated the election from the beginning.”

Opinions of the students who participated in the the protest were included in the CW article:

College of Arts and Sciences Senator John Dodd said the student protest was also a protest against the Machine, a more-than-century-old underground political organization on campus that controls elections.

“Even though it’s on a small scale, the student government is still a democracy,” Dodd said. “The Machine field of politics here at The University of Alabama will one day expand to state politics and Alabama. Eventually [these Machine candidates] are going to become your state representatives, they’re going to become your state senators, and they’re going to carry out this corruption that they learned in college and make it a part of their career forever.”

Sean Atchison, a sophomore majoring in international studies, said he contested the election to support increased transparency in the SGA. He said Pope’s email “crossed a line” because of the ongoing judicial appeal against the Elections Board.

“It was bull—-,” he said. “I believe that the SGA should be run by students, and there should have a certain level of autonomy from the administration. The administration can not decide when they don’t like something that they’re going to step in. Dr. Pope has put the administration’s weight behind a particular narrative, and nothing can be done without the shadow of that.”

The protest was an opportunity to point out transgressions by the SGA for Garrett Burnett, a junior double majoring in history and Spanish.

“Obviously everyone sees the homecoming election as the main issue,” Burnett said. “But I think it runs so much deeper than that. A lot of people don’t realize the blatant corruption of the SGA, the corruption of the Elections Board.”

Atchison said he feels clear on what students are fighting for.

“We’re going to continue to keep having these problems as long as we are not talking about the Machine,” he said. “This is not just about the Elections Manual. This is not just about that email. This is about ending the Machine once and for all.”

Just as in the case of voting in a T-Town municipal school board election, where the turnout had usually been low, an orchestrated bloc vote by The Machine for Homecoming would win the day. In the case of the Homecoming Queen election the winning candidate didn’t even get 50 percent of the total vote. Whether, if a runoff election had been scheduled, the more popular Fouts would have won will never be known. One outcome of this episode in the history of The Machine is that a little more light was shown on the notorious, “secretive” university organization


The Machine & The Queen

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Most residents of T-Town were familiar with The Machine at the University of Alabama. Its alleged involvement in electing the University of Alabama‘s 2021 Homecoming Queen may have have been considered by some as just another story about The Machine.

The University of Alabama‘s student newspaper The Crimson White in 2020 featured a story about The Machine by Jessa Reid Bolling. Bolling wrote:

Stories of alleged Machine actions have grown over decades, including burglary, cross-burning, vandalism and social ostracism, to name a few. Two decades ago, the Student Government Association was temporarily disbanded after a non-Machine presidential candidate claimed she was assaulted. A former Tuscaloosa school board member sued over claims the group improperly swayed a city election by providing students with booze and concert tickets in 2013. While actions taken by the Machine have become less recognizable and less violent in recent years, the organization’s past has become clearer with time.

Peter Jacobs in The Business Insider gave accounts of The Machine having tapped the phone of a student candidate, permanently closed a local business, and assaulted a rival candidate, among many other nefarious actions.

The Machine‘s involvement in a local school board election in 2013, involving limo rides to the polls and promises of free booze in exchange for voting for a Machine endorsed candidate, achieved national notoriety.

A 2013 entry in the Franklin Stove Blog gave details about the municipal election.

The Greeks now own the dubious honor of controlling Tuscaloosa’s District Four. In 1997 an undergraduate student who was President of the University’s Inter-fraternity Council Lee Garrison was able to secure a seat on the Tuscaloosa  City Council with the help of The Machine Vote at the University.

One student supporter of the school board candidate endorsed by The Machine posted on social media that she thought he was hot and she’d be willing to give him a “handy” any day.

WVTM/13‘s Linda White in 2015, wrote about the lawsuit filed by school board incumbent Kelly Horwitz, who had run against the candidate endorsed by The Machine. Horwitz had filed a lawsuit alleging that illegal votes, which violated the 30-day residency requirement for municipal elections, had been cast for her opponent. The Alabama State Supreme Court then had indeed ruled that illegal votes had been cast for her opponent. However, in 2016, Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Jim Robert dismissed her case.

A Tuscaloosa City Council meeting concerning redistricting had been held in October, 2021. As reported by the Tuscaloosa NewsJason Morton, concerns over a future student vote were expressed by the District Four Council member Lee Busby. Morton wrote that “the main sticking point was in District 4, which includes the bulk of students attending the University of Alabama. Mobilization efforts in past elections have helped sway the outcomes based on the votes of temporary or transient residents, many of whom don’t live here long enough to face the consequences of their electoral actions.”

Articles in The Crimson White, after the 2021 Homecoming Queen vote, had been highly critical of its outcome. Keely Brewer and Isabel Hope wrote that the vote was, in fact, invalid.

AL.com‘s Kyle Whitmire mentioned the Crimson White‘s coverage of the vote in an article “What UA’s homecoming queen debacle means for Alabama.”

Whitmire asked, “Who cares if the Machine or anybody else there is up to shenanigans again?” He pointed out that The Machine had been involved in Alabama politics for decades. He wrote that “somebody decided the rules didn’t matter this time.”

He concluded his article in this way: “And there’s better than fair chance that, in a decade or two, one of those somebodies will be your lawmaker, your senator, or your governor.

Tuscaloosa Thread‘s Lauren Stinson wrote: “While Fouts was one of the most popular candidates in the race, her loss doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Many controversies surrounded this year’s homecoming queen race as McLean Moore was allegedly backed by Theta Nu Epsilon, otherwise known as The Machine.” Added to disappointment felt by many fans in T-Town over the University of Alabama super-star softball pitcher Montana Fouts having lost was the conviction that it had likely been only due to the chicanery of The Machine.


Stinking Up the Stadium–A Bama Tradition

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England’s King James I described cigar smoking in as “a custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof nearest resembling the horrible stygian smoke of the pit that is bottomless.”

Anyone watching the broadcast of the Alabama Tennessee football game would’ve heard ESPN‘s play-by-play commentator Jason Bennetti say, “It looks like fireworks went off here with all the haze, but it’s cigar smoke.”

Images of the parents of one of Alabama’s star players Bryce Young had been frequently shown during the broadcast. Up until the smoke began to fill the stadium they had been beaming with pride. Bryce was born to Julie and Craig Young in Pasadena, California. The countenance of the Californians seemed to shift towards the game’s final minutes.

Perhaps the Youngs had not been familiar with the Alabama football tradition of fans smoking victory cigars every time Bama beats the Volunteers?

CBS/42‘s Tim Reid reported on the “Hate Week” tradition. Reid wrote:

Reagan Starner is the owner of R & R Cigars and says hate week is one of the busiest weeks for business. He says so many Bama fans purchase cigars to smoke after the game and hopes Alabama wins again.

“It is coolest man and there’s nothing like Bryant Denny going up in a cloud of smoke as the clock strikes zero, if you’re in the student section, a little before it strikes zero. But it’s a classy and fun tradition,” said Starner.

USAToday Sport‘s Hannah Stephens wrote about the stinky cigar tradition. She credited Alabama athletic trainer Jim Goostree as the man who initiated the practice of smoking cigars in the locker room. After the victory of Alabama over Tennessee in 1961 Goostree danced naked in the locker room–with a cigar in his mouth.

Stephens reported that, although there had been a “no smoking” rule for the athletes in the locker room, the National Collegiate Athletic Association had made an exception to this rule for the Tennessee rivalry.

Although the University of Alabama had a “smoke free campus,” fans in the stadium had felt free to ignore the smoking ban. The University’s policy states:

The health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff is one of the highest priorities for The University of Alabama. As a result, over the past two decades, we have taken steps to help protect the campus community from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Effective Jan. 1, 2015, The University of Alabama will extend its smoke-free policy to include all facilities, grounds and parking areas on the UA campus.

The University’s COVID policy on mask wearing in the stadium reportedly had been ignored as well. Masks had reportedly rarely been seen in the indoor club areas or elevators.

Smokers had altered their smoking habits because of the Covid pandemic, fearing that they would have had a “greater risk for serious complications from COVID-19.” Many fans at Bryant-Denny have seemed to be oblivious to any such dangers.

Due to a federal executive order, as reported by NBC/15‘s Christian Hinkel, the University of Alabama System had required COVID-19 vaccinations for employees. Unlike many other schools, the University had not required that football fans show proof of vaccination. Requiring that masks be worn in indoor stadium areas had been as far the University would go.

Included among the notables who are associated with cigars have been Winston Churchill, Fidel Castro, George Burns and Saddam Hussein. Of course former President Bill Clinton was notorious for his use of a cigar, as reported by the Pew Research Center.

Perhaps someday stinky cigar smoking in Bryant-Denny Stadium would not only be recognized as a health hazard, but would also be considered to be in bad taste.


Underground Greek Organizations at the Capstone?

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Sarah Brown in the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote about protests over a “a wave of reported sexual assaults, many of them in fraternity houses.” Her article “The Fraternity Dilemma” did not mention the recent protests over alleged rapes by fraternity members at Auburn University that were reported by Maria Carrasco in Inside Higher Education.

Carrasco wrote that, after a female student disclosed to police that she was raped, 500 students were involved in a protest. “During the protest, students circulated a petition asking the university to share more information about the fraternity named in the student’s allegation.”

Rapes at other universities at the time had been in the headlines.

On September 24, 2021, in the Kansas City Star, Katie Moore reported that “a student last weekend was allegedly drugged and raped during a house party at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.”

Paige Skinner wrote on August 26, 2021 in Buzz Feed News that “thousands of students at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, have been protesting outside the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house after a sexual assault was reported.”

Chris Burt on September 21, 2021 wrote about protests over sexual assault in University Business that “fraternities again are at the center of allegations of violence, backlash across several campuses.”

On the website Students 4 Social Change, Madeline Gaeta in 2020 wrote:

Although the sense of entitlement that exists among fraternities needs to be addressed, the covering up of rape cases by both fraternities and sororities truly encourages the behavior to continue. When a case of sexual assault arises in Greek life, it’s protocol to keep it hush hush because if news broke out, the social calendar could fall apart. By keeping it a secret, the fraternities are still able to host parties, and the sororities still have events to attend. This presents an utter lack of respect for the issue at hand. Fraternity brothers are consequently taught that they can get away with such behaviors. It also invalidates the victims and says that members of the Greek community don’t care enough to make a change. Sororities hiding reports of sexual assault from their own sisters lead the victims to feel shame in what happened to them, and also creates an aura of fear around coming out and speaking one’s truth if another member of the sorority is sexually assaulted. 

In her article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Sarah Brown included statements by Gentry McCreary, “a former director of Greek affairs at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa who now works with fraternities and sororities on risk management.” According to Brown, McCreary was of the opinion that “if students persuade their colleges to abolish the formal Greek-life system, some fraternity members would simply create underground organizations that aren’t subject to institutional oversight. That would make it even harder to prevent sexual misconduct and other criminal behavior.”

The idea that banning the “Greek-life” system would produce rogue frat houses may seem farfetched. But perhaps McCreary, if anyone, would understand the dynamics of Greek life at the University of Alabama.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), sexual violence on campus is pervasive, with 13% of all students experiencing “rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.”

In June, 2021, the University of Alabama‘s campus newspaper The Crimson White ran a series on the rape culture on campus. Ava Fisher wrote: “In seeking awareness about sexual violence, we must remember to pursue a survivor’s personal narrative, one far more complex than what has been done to them. In doing so, we stop the dehumanization of survivors and instead honor them. As we tell new stories, we set new standards for our society so that all may reclaim their own humanity.”


Round Ball & Covid

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

The Covid virus had been depicted as a round shape but, unlike a basketball, it had been shown with spikes.

Photo by CDC on Pexels.com

What steps would the University of Alabama‘s basketball program have taken to mitigate the transmission of the Coronavirus transmission during the 2021 season?

The Tide Tipoff had been scheduled for October 22.

Masks had been required in indoor areas on campus.

Following guidance from the UA System Health and Safety Task Force, the UA campus requirement for face coverings has been extended through Oct. 29. Face coverings continue to be required inside all non-residential campus buildings, including all classrooms and academic buildings, and on campus transportation. The rule applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status.

SpectrumNews/1‘s Charles Duncan reported the steps taken by schools in the ACC. “The stakes are high for teams. The Atlantic Coast Conference this year won’t allow teams to reschedule games if too many players test positive for the coronavirus.” He further wrote:

College basketball is big business in North Carolina and around the country. With the countdown on, many fans are waiting to hear how they can finally go see a game in person again. Thousands of screaming fans in an indoor space could be a recipe for more COVID-19 cases on campus.

But with coronavirus case numbers still high, schools are still trying to figure out how they can have thousands of screaming fans in indoor arenas.

Duncan said that masks might be required or attendance limited to fans who had vaccine cards or a negative test. The capacity of an arena might also be restricted.

Associated Press‘s John Seewer reported that, although deaths per day due to Covid had dropped off, if public safety measures were not still maintained that there might be a fifth surge of infections. He wrote: “Despite the encouraging direction in the U.S., health experts say it is no time for people to drop their guard because there are still far too many who are unvaccinated.”

The Crimson White‘s Alex Jobin wrote about Covid mitigation measures at football games. There had been no mask requirement at the University for outdoor events. He wrote:

As far as specific policies are concerned, the University should require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test prior to attending a game. For those who are already vaccinated this would pose no inconvenience; for those who are not, this would allow them to still enjoy the games while minimizing the risk that they might pose to themselves and others. The University would not even be alone in taking this action; other SEC schools such as LSU have instituted a COVID-19 policy since the beginning of the season.

Would the University’s mask requirement be extended after October 29th? Would that apply to fans in Coleman Coliseum and Foster Auditorium? Or would there be the “horrible public health implications” that Alex Jobin opined about in The Crimson White?