Even if Machine still won't learn, student body canBy Patrick Crowley | 04/06/2014 11:00pm
Prof. Horwitz’s opinion column last week in The Crimson White tactfully delineated the problems that have affected the University over the past year (school board elections, sorority integration and the Student Government Association’s recent failing to pass a resolution supporting full integration of the Greek community), attempted to explain the underlying causes and detailed some possible ramifications. He leaves the reader with a simple question, “What if the Machine can’t learn?”
His kindheartedness and generosity is appreciated, since his question implies that the Machine is capable of learning. But if any lesson is to be learned from this past year, it is that the Machine is altogether incompetent and incapable of learning. If the Machine is truly capable of extending its dark hand to courthouses across the state, to the Alabama State Legislature and to the governor, it is utterly failing at producing quality future talent via the University of Alabama SGA.
Not only do the Machine representatives who attempted to buy votes last summer appear in court filings, but also the names of SGA presidents, vice presidents, senators and directors can be found online or in archives. What can be worse to a secret society than to have the names of your members be discovered and associated numerous times to malfeasances and blatant disregards toward civic duty?
Of course, there are two ways I can think of to wreak havoc to, if not destroy, the Machine. First, paradoxical to many, do not even try to contest the SGA elections and ignore the SGA entirely – really, independent candidates should just quit trying. Remember being a kid playing against that one terrible kid who always changed the rules on you and created invisible items giving him super powers? Apologies for the awful recall of those memories, but it is high time to be that annoying pest of a kid, because he or she pissed you off and you stopped playing the game against him or her. That kid won by default because he changed the rules of the game.
Any components of the SGA that greatly impact the events on campus and student organizations, such as the Financial Affairs Committee, can be petitioned to be moved directly under control of Student Affairs and out of the SGA. By not playing the game, by ignoring the SGA and not-contesting the elections, by being that annoying kid we all hated playing with, the game and the SGA must undoubtedly change. The training grounds for the Machine will no longer be the same, and collegiate members will lack the preparation for future roles, whatever those may be.
Second, and humorously, create more secret societies. The University of Virginia has more secret societies than most colleges have buildings. A multitude of secret societies have symbols adorning the buildings and sidewalks, and one receives the impression that they actually do something of benefit to the campus. And they do, because the majority of the secret societies actually greatly benefit UVA via donations toward academic buildings and not fraternity houses, chairmanships for professors and advancements in degree programs.
It is easy for the Machine to have complete control of a campus when it is the only secret society on campus. A pluralistic campus is a much better campus. Through the creation of more secret societies, the Machine will have to support positive endeavors and focus on the entirety of campus, not just themselves.
While there are certainly more than two ways to combat the Machine, the point still remains that trying to play them at their own game will not work as they have decades of experience. So, let’s change the game played by the Machine and, in doing so, change the conversation on campus toward something more positive.
The Machine may be incapable of learning, which will be beneficial when changing rules to a game, but according to me, the student body is extremely capable of learning and will adapt to combat the Machine and lead the University where it should be.
Patrick Crowley is a junior majoring in mathematics, finance and economics. His column runs weekly