The Greek system and the meaning of Democracy

On Aug. 27, several sorority and fraternity houses on campus were involved in the hijacking of a local election. Mobilized in support of a former SGA president, they were taken to the polling station in limos (perfectly legal) and apparently offered other inducements to vote (stretching legality to breaking point).

The students’ bloc vote effectively decided the result of the District 4 School Board election, ousting an experienced and committed incumbent. The ultimate responsibility for this sad little trampling of the democratic process must lie with Cason Kirby, his campaign staff and the murky network of “business-oriented” political action committees that funded him.

But this episode also poses some serious questions about the relationship between the University and the town, as well as our students’ understanding of civic responsibility. The school board election will affect the education of Tuscaloosa’s children – a vital issue but one in which, almost by default, the students involved could have had no direct stake. When these students voted, they showed contempt for the consequences of their blind obedience and for the democratic process itself.

It is hardly surprising that the people who actually care about this issue (the parents) are left feeling extremely angry at this brazen, disinterested incursion into their children’s lives. Altering the outcome of local elections clearly crosses a line, and the publicity that this event has justifiably generated does not paint the University in a flattering light. In the aftermath of the election, many town residents are asking what President Bonner and the University’s upper administration make of the cynical manipulation of Tuscaloosa’s politics by those allied to the University’s greek system and what can be done to discourage it while defending everyone’s right to vote. These people deserve an answer.

Jon Benstead is an associate professor in the department of biological sciences.

  • John Earl

    Some of those seedy little co-eds who voted will be turning tricks in Suarez some day.

    • Brad Erthal

      It seems we agree on the substance of this particular issue, and we probably agree on more than that, but there is no call for you to engage in a blatantly sexist attack on our ideological opponents.

      • John Earl

        You are certainly right. They may end up in Tijuana for all I know but my comment was inappropriate and I deeply apologize for it. And the dudes looked like they would all be living in their parents’ house after graduation ( I certainly lived in my parents’ house ) and would end up in Rehab. ( I never went to Rehab though. )

        • Bruce Weinstein

          The disgruntled above me have spoken, which is nothing different than a young lady or man not being chosen to be a Greek. Where’s your biatching about Obama’s fake voting legions and all the other lopsided Democrat antics that go on in this state? You pick on Greeks simply because you are not socially equipped to be an equal to them; you despise them and their parents for giving them the wherewithal to succeed when all you can do is wish. Put as much effort into increasing your own self-worth without trying to drag down others. Respond with code, ordinances or laws that any of them broke. I will await!

          • John Earl
          • Bruce Weinstein

            I purposely chose to spell it that way so people like you, the spell check idiots on forums, can push forth the fact that you are proficient in at least one facet of life.

          • John Earl

            Bruce, you are not only a scholar but a gentleman!

          • STOP THE FEAR

            The answer to your question about which code, ordinance, or law that was broken by UA Greeks is Alabama Code 17-17-39. For more information, including an analysis of just how the code was broken, read here: http://apr.org/post/tactics-during-school-board-vote-may-violate-state-law?nopop=1

          • Bruce Weinstein

            The word “May” is still being used. The question to be answered is was it actually an occurrence.

          • MAB

            >Where’s your biatching about Obama’s fake voting legions and all the other lopsided Democrat antics that go on in this state?

            [Citation needed]

            >You pick on Greeks simply because you are not socially equipped to be an equal to them; you despise them and their parents for giving them the wherewithal to succeed when all you can do is wish.

            Hahahahahahahahahaha.

          • Bruce Weinstein

            If you were not so completely filled with a childishness reply, I’d say bite me. Sink your teeth into more rancid meat.

          • MAB

            Yes, because deflecting the charges at issue here, saying that everyone that commented is below greek students as human beings, and telling me to bite you represents a great viewpoint that’s well informed. Oh wait, it doesn’t. Go away ignorant troll.

          • Bruce Weinstein

            And that is all they are, ‘charges’, until proven otherwise. Got news for you -> this group of students will always find ways to help elect those they feel are close to their beliefs. What they’ll learn from this situation is to be more deft and discreet. They’ll not be stopped from creativeness. This is NOT to say that there are not other fine students/leaders among the student population, but someone/some group is going to have to get a cohesive existence going forward or the others will still get their thoughts implemented.

          • MAB

            How are they going to be more discreet? Almost everyone involved on campus knows how their system works. Even the more discreet fraternity and sororities.

          • Brad Erthal

            I know that y’all enjoy the myth that the rest of us want nothing more than to be Greek, and just absolutely despise the fact that you didn’t let us in. Some of us, however, simply decided that we didn’t relish the prospect of living in a segregated system and spending our entire college careers hammered. And the thing which we resent is not the exclusion from your little club (I was never rejected; I didn’t beg for admission in the first place). What we resent is precisely this attitude that the old money class in the state has some sort of entitlement to run things politically, because they consider themselves our betters.

          • Concerned “Christian”

            Are you really that delusional that you think everyone wants to be “you?” What is there to “be?” Let’s all have Bama bangs, wear ugly shorts, and lose all of our personal identity and uniqueness to conform to some “standard” that you think is impossible for people, save yourself, to achieve? Wow! How about trying to be a decent member of society who cares about others? How about show some good will towards your fellow person and have some empathy in this situation? But no–you live by this insanity that everyone wants to be you–which is so far from the truth it’s not only something unreal but downright hysterical to consider. Grow up young man.

          • Bruce Weinstein

            My last reply to you. Oh, I am more than likely, old enough to be your father or grandfather. Therefore I have a handle on ‘old school’ or rather, correct school, standards. Bye

          • Concerned “Christian”

            You clearly are not a mature “older” person that you try to assert yourself to be. If you were, you would rise above a “nanny, nanny, boo-boo” mentality.” You are clearly brainwashed by your experiences in an organization that forced you to eat your own feces, get anally raped by your pledge brothers, and/or allowed you the thought that you think you are “better” than others for merely existing in such filth. Get a grip buddy.

  • Plainsman in T-town

    It seems the machine is well oiled and churning out the same caliber of civic leaders it always has (a photo of Garrison, as sitting city councilman, wearing a penis on his face is a good case in point.) Until the University decides to stamp-out this culture of corruption, questionable ethics and complete disregard of the democratic process, they will continue to witness a shortage of trust among us commoners, the students and faculty. Also, I would like to know the level of involvement the Kirby campaign had in the buying of sorority votes. The letter posted by the sorority brat mentioned speaking directly with both Kirby and Garrison. Were they aware, or worse, endorse the sorority’s behavior. If so, I think their concession would be an appropriate action. Good luck to the parents who have to deal with these clowns.

  • Brad Erthal

    About the only thing that could be done would be prosecuting the crimes which were committed, as far as I see it. There can’t really be a ban on voting, and oversight of all Greek organizations during elections would be cumbersome at best. I’m not holding my breath on prosecutions. The state bar is as populated by the same miscreants as the PACs which supported Kirby and ran his campaign.