Friday, February 17, 2006
On this day:

So, "The Machine" does exist

Anyone who has attended the University of Alabama knows about "The Machine." It's been written about in the national press. It has its own Wikipedia page. It is the exclusive subject of a web site called "Welcome to the Machine," and Alabama Public Television even made a documentary about it a few years ago, called "One and All."

For years, the University's student newspaper, the Crimson White, has defined The Machine as "a select coalition of traditionally white fraternities and sororities designed to influence campus politics." "Influence" may be a bit of an understatement. As recently as 2004, there were allegations of Machine threats and intimidation against a sorority member who dared to run for office without the organization's endorsement. It wasn't the first time something like that has happened. There have been numerous other incidents through the years, but the one that sticks in my mind occurred while I was a student there. Back in 1993, the University administration disbanded student government altogether after a candidate for SGA President was assaulted in her apartment. Although no one was ever charged, Machine involvement was suspected. That was a long time ago, but it still holds some interest because the candidate who was beaten up was Minda Riley, whose father now serves as Governor of Alabama.

Anyway...what brought all of this to mind were these two stories from Thursday: this one from the Crimson White and this one from the AP.

Here's the summary: The current SGA President, Mary Margaret Carroll, has publicly acknowledged "The Machine's" existence and has stated that she was once a member. So, the big topic of discussion on campus now is whether Mary Margaret was sticking her neck out by publicly revealing her association with the group, or whether The Machine has finally decided to come out of the closet, so to speak. Should be entertaining to watch.