The Machine is getting ridiculousBy Mike Smith | 11/16/2016 7:25pm
CW / Kylie Cowden
For over 100 years, Theta Nu Epsilon, also known as The Machine, was an entity on Alabama's campus to be feared. The Machine used every scare tactic and committed every assault it could to instill dominance in the Student Government Association, from cross burning to phone tapping, bombings to stabbings.
However, since the desegregation of sororities three years ago, The Machine has taken on a different approach, away from violence and towards obstructionism. Nowadays, The Machine simply passes meaningless legislation and props up useless initiatives in hopes that students blindly re-elect or promote them. So far, it has worked.
This year so far, only nine acts have passed in the SGA Senate. Of the nine, seven of them were standard financial acts dealing with the budget. Only two, both authored by independent students, have passed otherwise. The Machine has authored and passed zero acts that would actually improve Alabama student's lives. Instead, The Machine has passed over two dozen absolutely meaningless resolutions which, for those unfamiliar with legislative formatting, have no power and stand as simply a recommendation of certain actions.
Some of these resolutions include "A Resolution to Foster Collaboration Amongst the 21st SGA Senate," "A Resolution Encouraging Stronger Relationships Between Students and their Advisor," and "A Resolution Calling for the Capstone Creed and the SGA Mission Statement to be Recited at all Meetings." This is what The Machine thinks is important to students on Alabama's campus.
The Machine has done nothing to help a single student stay well-fed. They have done nothing to make our campus more environmentally friendly. They have done nothing to make campus life more affordable. They simply have done nothing other than pad their own résumés.
However, perhaps the most repugnant thing The Machine has done in Senate this year was killing an ethics bill authored by Law School Senator Robert Pendley last week. The bill would allow the Ethics and Oversight Committee to investigate potential derelictions of duty by SGA officials. After ridiculous speeches of negation by The Machine, they unceremoniously killed the bill to protect their Attorney General from being investigated for failure to fulfill her duties.
To be fair, not every SGA official associated with The Machine is willfully ignoring student's concerns. I personally did not vote for a single member of the current executive branch, but some of them, including VPAA Emily Cerrina and VPFA Jordan Forrest, are doing a fantastic job. Even President Lillian Roth, who I campaigned against last spring, is working hard for students. But the larger trend among Machine members, especially in the SGA Senate, is to do nothing and ride their voting block to re-election next March.
I will be honest, The Machine is not the violent force that it used to be, and thank God for that. But nonetheless, The Machine still is dangerous. Its political ideology, "do nothing important so they can get elected to office and put something on their résumé," has and will continue to undermine the importance of the SGA, and more broadly, the ability of students to promote positive change on campus.
Mike Smith is a sophomore majoring in economics. His column runs biweekly.