Wednesday, September 18, 2013

University of Alabama Sororities and Fraternities Organize to Vote in Local Election

No Problem Here With That . . . Except

For decades there has been controversy over the voting status of college students.  As temporary residents in the college towns, the question is whether or not they can vote in local elections.  This has largely been decided in favor of the students’ right to vote for local races.  Of course statewide the issue has been raised by Republicans who want to make it very difficult for students to vote at all because Republicans think students don’t vote Republican, but that’s another story.

Melissa Brown/Al.Com
Vans, limousines and at least one bus picked up people along sorority row at the University of Alabama and shuttled them to and from a polling place on the day of a school board election.

So this Forum has no problem with a story in the New York Times about a sort of “political machine” organized by the Greek societies in Tuscaloosa, the home of the University of Alabama.  Except there is this troubling aspect.

The school year at the University of Alabama has barely gotten started, and already the campus has found itself in a charged self-examination on issues of politics, power and race, with the exposure of tenacious segregation among fraternities and sororities drawing national attention.

But the turmoil began some weeks earlier. It raised the specter of the Machine, a secret society representing a league of select and almost exclusively white fraternities and sororities, which has been around for a century or more. Once a breeding ground for state political leaders, the Machine (it has long been known by that nickname) today maintains a solid hold on student government through an effective, and critics say coercive, brand of old-fashioned organization politics.

No the issue is not race, (this is Alabama, what did you expect?).  The issue is secrecy.  Secrecy is the sworn enemy of democracy.  Secrecy is the ally of totalitarianism.  Secrecy sides with corruption and venality.  Secrecy means this group has something to hide. 

And no, there is probably no legal remedy that would force the Alabama “Machine” to come into the cleansing glow of sunlight.  But obviously the members of the “Machine” do need some cleansing.  In shrouding themselves in secrecy they are admitting they are dirty.

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