SGA resolution is pitiful PR moveBy Nathan James | 04/09/2014 11:00pm
Our SGA Senate just made a symbolic concession to the goal of Greek integration. Tuesday night, SGA President Hamilton Bloom introduced a resolution almost identical to the one that the Senate allowed to die in its last meeting. In essence, the resolution constitutes a statement of support for Greek integration on the part of the Senate.
This resolution is a symbolic victory for equality at The University of Alabama. But if the student body thinks of it as a practical victory, we may be played for fools.
Bear in mind that just two weeks ago the Senate overwhelmingly voted down a resolution that was functionally identical to the one Bloom just introduced. This brings forth the question: Why have they returned to this issue?
It’s possible that the new Senate is a completely different animal from the old and wants to correct the mistakes of its predecessor. But it’s more likely that they’re trying to quell the media outrage that followed the Senate’s decision to kill the first iteration of the resolution.
When the last resolution went through, our Senate probably thought that they could kill it and no one would notice. Generally, the goings-on of our student government don’t get a lot of media coverage, and silence has always been the Machine’s go-to tactic for covering up racism. It’s likely that our senators were taken by surprise when their vote was broadcast by The Crimson White, Gawker, ABC, Huffington Post and London Daily Mail.
It seems very probable that Bloom’s new resolution may be an attempt to appease the critics who are challenging the SGA at the very start of Bloom’s term. After all, Bloom is a Machine candidate who has failed to even recognize that the Machine exists. Given his background, it’s unlikely that he’s become suddenly enamored with racial equality.
Does that mean that the resolution is a bad thing? Not at all. Our campus needs nothing more badly than discussion on race and equality, and it’s fantastic that our Senate is at least implicitly acknowledging institutionalized racism at the University. That being said, we need to understand the limitations of this resolution and not let it distract us in times to come.
This resolution has no binding power. It requires nothing of the Senate other than a verbal statement of support. And there’s a very real chance that once it passes, senators will go back to ignoring Greek offenses as it traditionally has.
Our campus needs to watch the Senate very closely to see if that happens. And if it does, we need to hold them accountable. We just proved that bad publicity can motivate our SGA to change, even when the dictates of common decency can’t. We have to remember that and be prepared to use our voices once again to drive progress in our university.
Thursday, the Senate will meet to discuss this resolution and possibly modify it. Thursday, we have the chance to see just how serious our SGA is about continuing integration. I urge everyone who’s reading this to attend and make it known that you won’t stand idly by.
Nathan James is a junior majoring in public relations. His column runs weekly.