Our View: Silence not an optionBy Our View | 04/02/2014 11:00pm
It is no secret that the University of Alabama Student Goverment Association is an organization largely limited to completing projects. It has shied away from truly taking a stand on any remotely controversial issue or representing the student voice in University affairs.
This timidity’s effect on the SGA’s relevance to the student body is apparent; by SGA candidates’ own admission, most students do not know what the SGA does for them and largely do not care.
While this reality does represent a missed opportunity, it has not damaged the rest of the University. With a bevy of services from Student Affairs and an array of opportunities for involvement, the student body does not need the SGA to function.
However, the SGA’s recent actions have shifted it from irrelevance to open harm to the University. Its decision to kill a resolution expressing support for integration is both shameful and embarrassing. The resolution was moderately worded, non-binding and not critical of the Greek system.
Instead, the resolution simply focused on removing a stigma placed on the UA Greek system by national media, from CNN to TotalFratMove.com, and made the simple statement that racial integration should be supported.
Despite the fact that this conclusion was reached in national discussions more than 50 years ago, the SGA Senate relied on a technical procedure to effectively kill the resolution, stating that it needed to go through regular order.
It should be noted that the procedure of fast-tracking legislation denied to this resolution had been used with unanimous support for dozens of other pieces of legislation throughout the year and even on that same night. Given how blatantly obvious the morally correct decision is in the issue of integration and how long overdue a strong statement of support from the SGA was on the issue, this process was clearly warranted.
By pretending that technicalities bound its hands and refusing to vote on the merits of the resolution, the Senate has joined a long tradition, from poll taxes in voting to the complex sorority recruitment prcess, of implicitly promoting discrimination through extremely cowardly excuses and trivialities.
In doing so, the Senate has granted legitimacy to racial segregation, set back progress and made a national spectacle of the school. The SGA has a duty to stand up for the basic rights of the student body it should represent; it has consistently failed to do so.
At multiple points this year, we believe that the SGA has had the opportunity to move forward with little effort required of them. The culture of not taking a stand has been an effective avenue in the past for padding resumes without any true conflict or progress.
Eventually, a refusal to act becomes a position in itself. While we believe the irrelevance of the SGA was better than its active embarrassment of the school, remaining irrelevant is not possible anymore. Due to the changes brought about by the upheaval of racial segregation last fall, the growth of out-of-state students and general campuswide progress, students are becoming more involved. Senators next year and the year after will continue to push these issues and force votes, whether Machine-backed Senators want to take them or not. The SGA must begin to take a stand, or it will become an even greater thorn in the University’s side.
Admittedly, opposing blatant racism and supporting integration is an extremely low bar to set. Unfortunately, we question whether the SGA’s members will be able to break past their fear of taking a stand to actually reach it.
Our View represents the consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board.