The real victim is campusBy Almosa Pirela-Jones | 10/13/2015 6:18am
For the past few years, allegations and videotaped instances of racism have surfaced at colleges across the country. However, The University of Alabama has maintained a solid position as the frontrunner regarding campus inequality, at least as far as national news outlets are concerned. Now, Bama’s recent football field slaying of the University of Arkansas has quickly taken a back seat to a much more pressing issue—racism. Before Homecoming Queen Katelyn Katsafanas could comfortably adjust her royal sash, the Tuscaloosa News, AL.com, Jezebel.com and even Teen Vogue, have called into question the stranglehold the Machine has on campus politics.
Just last year the Machine, a not-quite-secret entity that has become almost synonymous with The University of Alabama, lost ground when independent candidate Elliot Spillers was elected as the SGA president, becoming the second black SGA president in campus history and the first independent candidate in decades to successfully campaign for the position. For decades, the Machine has been an undeniably powerful force, and this fall’s homecoming election proved no different. The Crimson White’s own Erin Mosley discussed the issue, claiming overzealous peer pressure was to blame for sorority Alpha Gamma Delta’s lack of support of their sister Halle Lindsay. Unfortunately, her opinion fails to truly address an issue that is altogether new to the Greek system.
In September of 2013, Lindsay became one of the first Black women at the University of Alabama to accept a bid from a traditionally White sorority after a scandal involving racist sorority policies broke headlines across the world. As such, the question regarding the relationship between her race and her failed bid for Homecoming Queen is a moot point. Mosley asserts that Lindsay is no victim; rather, the victims are sorority girls shackled by the threat of exclusion from swaps, mixers for Panhellenic fraternities and sororities. Exclusion from swaps would make meeting fraternity guys more difficult and would cripple the social lives of members of the National Panhellenic Conference. However, touting these women as powerless victims of boy’s club politics—damsels in distress, for lack of a better term—completely discounts the fact that an overwhelming majority of NPC members either benefit from or are not negatively impacted by the racist and segregated atmosphere on campus.
Without the Machine, Lindsay may or may not have won the title of Homecoming Queen. Her race may or may not have been a deciding factor. Without the Machine, however, Lindsay and every other girl whose heart was set on that sash would have been afforded an equal opportunity to take home the win or crash and burn. The reality is the 1960’s are long gone. When will students stop closing their eyes, their mouths, their minds, and their hearts to an issue that impacts us all? At what point will every student take a stand in order to create a more united environment at the University of Alabama?
Almosa Pirela-Jones is a junior majoring in English. Her column runs biweekly.