Students react to new SGA leadership

Students react to new SGA leadership
Jake Stevens / Alabama Crimson White

Jared Hunter was the first openly Machine-backed candidate in the history of the University of Alabama.

On March 7, 2017, Jared Hunter was elected SGA president with 54 percent of the vote. Hunter was the first openly Machine-backed candidate in the history of The University of Alabama. Student reactions to his victory over independent candidates Lillian Roth, the incumbent, and Gene Fulmer ranged from ecstatic to disappointed.

Caitlin Cobb, a junior majoring in political science and Hunter’s campaign manager, was one of many students happy with Hunter’s victory. 

“I think if anyone has seen the picture from when we heard the results, they can see I was absolutely shocked and overjoyed,” Cobb said. “Our goal was to at least get in the run-off and to be able to win outright with 54 percent was amazing and totally unexpected.”

Audrey Bolus, a senior majoring in international relations and French and the chairwoman of the Capstone Coalition, was not surprised by Hunter’s victory. Rather, she expressed disappointment over Hunter’s win. 

“I was certainly disappointed,” Bolus said. “I do not have high hopes for Jared’s platform and goals, but it was not a real surprise thing that he won the election for SGA president.”

Other students expressed disappointment as well. Fitzgerald Mosley, a senior majoring in management and sales and an organizer for #bamasits, found Hunter’s platform to be lacking. 

“I think one of his campaigns was Back to Black, but, I mean, is it really back to black if it’s just one person,” Mosley said. “That’s kind what Martin Luther King would call tokenism.”

Mosley said he was disappointed with Hunter’s open affiliation with The Machine, citing The Machine’s negative racial past. 

“I mean, history repeats itself, and that’s just how it goes. … The Machine will continue with its racially back motives that has ran this campus for years,” Mosley said.

Bolus said she found Hunter’s admission of Machine-backing to be disturbing, as well. Bolus found Hunter’s admission to be a sign of The Machine’s attempt to ameliorate the concerns of the student body. 

“When I spoke to (Hunter), he sort of stated that he didn’t know much about it, it was more of an endorsement than an organization he was a part of, and we know that to not be anywhere close to true," she said.

Bolus cited The Machine’s checkered past. 

“I think that they’re trying to control the narrative so that some of the hysteria around it will sort of die down, but I think that, you know, however nicely you talk about it, it doesn’t change what it is and what it’s done in our University, and how it’s held our state in some ways back from progress," she said. 

Cobb said she insists that Hunter will remain neutral. She also said she views his admission of Machine backing to be a virtue. 

“He strives to do the right thing, convenient or inconvenient for him, and that was why he decided to run as an openly-backed candidate," Cobb said. "He was tired of SGA candidates not being forthright with their backing and thought the students deserved better.”

In a statement that seems to reflect the views of many students, Mosley said Hunter's Machine backing will come with strings attached. 

“[The Machine] didn’t back him because they didn’t expect anything in return. It comes at a price to have such power behind you, and we’re going to see what that’ll be," Mosley said. 

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