Our view: Hunter resignation shows Machine's pernicious influence

Our view: Hunter resignation shows Machine's pernicious influence

A tumultuous January has marked the beginning of 2018 for The University of Alabama. This past Sunday, right on the heels of Harley Barber’s racist viral video, UA found itself in the headlines once again when our now-former SGA president, Jared Hunter, was arrested for driving under the influence.

This editorial board remarked after the Barber incident that although many did not want Barber’s actions to be viewed as a reflection on this University, they ultimately were a manifestation of the culture of racism and prejudice all too prevalent at UA. In our last Our View, we argued that we must accept responsibility for her actions so that we could examine and change the systems in place that allowed her to believe these views were acceptable.

Though the incidents themselves obviously differ considerably, a similar responsibility must be taken in the case of Jared Hunter. This University should be judged for the actions Hunter took while occupying the highest office a student can hold. After all, it was our system of political corruption and intimidation that made him president in the first place.

In the 2017 SGA elections that put him into power, Hunter was the Machine candidate. This was not, as is normally the case, a well-known truth that he refused to admit. Hunter was the first candidate in Machine history to pen a letter to The Crimson White and publicly reveal the organization backing him. His honesty, though, did not make their influence over the elections any less harmful.

Greek students were still pressured and intimidated into voting for Hunter; sorority women were still told that if they did not tow the Machine’s line, they would be blackballed from social events with desirable fraternities. Multiple infractions were committed by Hunter’s campaign, most of which resulted from careless errors and a lack of oversight by him and his staff because these students knew that whatever they did, they would still win and very likely not be punished in any meaningful way.

Perhaps worst of all, the voices of the two-thirds of campus who do not belong to the Greek system were silenced, whether it be because they could not form a large enough voting bloc to compete with the Machine’s engineered dominance or because they felt their vote was useless when Greek students just win every year anyways.

Because of this, both independent and most Greek students did not get to choose who they thought would the be best representation of the University, just as has been the case nearly every year. Instead, members of the Machine got to choose who they thought would represent their interests best. These Greek men and women have chosen to associate themselves with a secret, corrupt organization with a checkered past of violence and racism, proving their questionable character and subsequent inability to choose a good representative for UA.

The candidate they chose, Jared Hunter, had a previous arrest and a SNAM for another alcohol-related incident in 2015, disqualifying him from running for the Vice President of External Affairs position the Machine hoped to elect him to that year. Though Hunter is no doubt intelligent and highly involved on campus, these transgressions proved early on that he may not have the discretion to hold such a highly visible office in which he would represent the University.

However, the student body of the University did not get to vet this candidate through the electoral process because of the Machine’s influence. The year Hunter was elected, we had one candidate, Lillian Roth, who, despite her previous Machine affiliations, had at least proven her ability to represent the University without scandal, and another, Gene Fulmer, who had countless people, including members of this editorial board, who could attest to the fortitude of his character. Instead, we were given Jared Hunter, a candidate followed by scandal before, during and after his election. What did we think would happen during his tenure?

Hunter’s arrest should embarrass the University’s administration. Time after time, they have had the opportunity to acknowledge the Machine, to sanction its members and to end its stranglehold on campus politics. They have repeatedly chosen to do nothing, and because of this, they must now see headline after headline mentioning The University of Alabama, mugshot attached.

Until we end the practice of a dozen or so members of the most notorious Greek organizations selecting our president, whose selections are not based on the merit of the candidate but how easily they will go along with the Machine’s wishes, scandals like this will continue. If all students are not given the opportunity to choose the candidate they feel will best represent the University, the University will continue to be poorly represented. 

Yes, it was Hunter’s choice alone to get behind that wheel, but it was a corrupt body of elite students and the administration that tacitly endorses them who chose to have that decision reflect on all of UA.

Our View represents the consensus of the CW Editorial Board.

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