The Machine is not a jokeBy Arnelle Johnson | 03/09/2017 11:26pm
CW / Kylie Cowden
The Machine. Two words I would whisper to my friends whenever something unconventional happened, and I didn't have an exclamation because one wasn't offered. This past election season has bought the presence of the Greek organization Theta Nu Epsilon, also known as "The Machine," back into the limelight yet again. While people might laugh about The Machine’s tactics and schemes, their dark past of violence, prejudice, voter intimidation and manipulation of local and district elections aren't a joke.
With 2017 SGA presidential results unofficial and pending, junior Jared Hunter has been handed the highest position in UA student government by a margin of 54 percent; he admittedly cited The Machine as his sponsor and incumbent President Lillian Roth as the past Machine candidate. This is where I'm worried. Now that more students are beginning to hear about The Machine, they see it as a means to an end or to get what you want then drop later. Hunter earned The Machine's attention through SGA, Greek life involvement and academics with his win denoting him as the third Black SGA president in the University's history. As Hunter claims promises of transparency and rebuttals The Machine in his SGA agenda, the question emerges: would Hunter be the President-elect without the very system he disavows? Moreover, if Hunter was truly confident in his ability to appeal to students and adequately convey his vision, why even accept their help?
Either way, I get it. Hunter does deserve recognition for his persistence and quick return to campaigning following the overturn of his suspended campaign that faced two major infractions and one minor. But, that's the most praise I can extent. His campaign should have been suspended until the day before elections as originally scheduled. Furthermore, in most cases by Alabama’s reputation, history and campus response, Jared Hunter shouldn't have won. At all.
But, it goes back to The Machine through numbers and power plays made at 9 p.m. in some basement on fraternity row. With 54 percent of the vote, Hunter can have approximately 7500 votes in his favor if one goes off last years numbers, where Roth secured the presidency with nearly the exact percentage (53.87) as Hunter this year. I'm not a mathematician or engineer, but what are the odds? Anyone who can identify sufficient ways to effectively formulate voter patterns to ensure a certain candidate’s victory – regardless of how their opponents operates – are not working alone. With multiple sororities and fraternities composed to form The Machine, its body can easily produce 7,500 votes with single houses having over 300 actives alone as the University has 31 fraternities and 17 sororities – not including the National Pan Hellenic Council.
Jared, you know better. You so wished to elevate yourself into a position to make a difference and “break the mold” but in doing so, you blatantly trusted the wrong people. People who would just as quickly elect you, turn around only to impeach you to cause a disruption in power or to block legislation that doesn't agree with them. You didn't trust students to believe in you and that could have been your biggest mistake. I hope a year from now I'm wrong. But, if I'm not and The Machine was a joke, you'd be the punchline.
Arnelle Johnson is a junior majoring in economics. Her column runs biweekly.