Our View | It’s our job to investigate rumors on campus

CW Editorial Board

The Crimson White is not deterred from tackling big issues, reporting overlooked events or facing our campus’s challenges head on. Our staff aims to continue this work through the rumor edition, which confirms or debunks rumors that surround our campus. The University of Alabama is a well-known institution. From our highly decorated football team to our expansive research opportunities, we have certainly earned a place in national dialogue. The CW is a valuable part in this conversation. 

Rumor 1: Students at The University of Alabama do not care about ending COVID-19. 

This rumor is a difficult one to tackle since the subject of the pandemic inherently invites the consideration of many other issues, but we can start with the reporting that has been done on this topic. Are our students placing themselves, and the surrounding community, at risk? 

During the summer of 2020, the campus community gained national attention for a number of concerning headlines, all with the same idea: that UA students were intentionally hosting parties to encourage the spread of  COVID-19. These headlines were in no short supply. 

From ABC News to the Associated Press to Insider, national news outlets flocked to this story until it became its own pandemic legend. The University has rebutted this story many times, but the myth has left a stain on the University’s reputation, painting our student body as reckless, careless and even malicious. 

Verdict: Insufficient evidence. 

The University of Alabama has a reputation for being a “party school,” and its students have a reputation for being football fanatics who are unafraid to swarm the city’s bars on game days. However, this reputation does not necessarily mean that students have intentionally spread a virus for fun or to earn money through bets. The source of these rumors is somewhat vague in nature, circulating through the staff of a local urgent care facility, who cited recordings of students engaging in these practices. These videos have yet to be uncovered or published online. 

It appears to us at The CW that parties that occur during the pandemic are only “COVID parties” in the sense that any large-scale gathering risks the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The virus’s spread does not need to be intentional in order for it to still happen. 

The University of Alabama is not the only place that has inspired fears of “COVID parties,” with similar headlines cropping up in Florida, Washington State and Texas. 

In the absence of proof that people are spreading the COVID-19 virus intentionally, our reporting on the pandemic has instead focused on what the University is doing to curtail the spread of the virus. 

Rumor 2: The University of Alabama is only a football and party school.

Rumors such as the existence of COVID parties are allowed to persist due to another common rumor about our campus: that students come here to spend four years partying, with academics taking a secondary role. In rankings of the top party schools in the country, the Capstone consistently appears in the top 10. In 2020, the Princeton Review even placed the University at the No. 1 spot.

Verdict: False. 

The sources of this rumor are understandable. Alabama football fans pride themselves on a very recognizable number: 18. Our football team claims eighteen national championship wins. We are the home of a national legend, coach Nick Saban. When it comes to football, no one does it better. It’s difficult to follow college football at all without encountering our university’s name splashed across the headlines. From devastating losses to glorious victories, news outlets are always committed to covering our football performances. 

Our school offers more than the celebration of football victories. There are so many thriving areas of campus that deserve coverage. This is why we believe that The CW is best equipped to uncover overlooked successes on campus. While national news outlets may not have the resources or interest to consistently cover all aspects of the Capstone, that is our express purpose at The CW. Because of our connection to campus as students, we are able to gain a complete view of the University from the inside. 

Though we deeply value our football team, we also love to report on the other sports that The University of Alabama excels in. We love to highlight the top college athletes of the UA gymnastics team and the winners of the 2021 SEC Tournament, the UA men’s basketball team

However, our love of reporting the successes of campus doesn’t stop with sports. As both students and journalists, we know that the Capstone is an impressive academic institution. 

If we want The University of Alabama to be recognized for our impressive research feats or our commitment to service and leadership, then we, as journalists, must give these events a platform. If an area of campus goes overlooked, then we have failed at our duty. We take our responsibility as a representative of the University seriously, and we will continue to identify what it does well and what it can do better. 

Rumor 3: Greek life is a big deal at The University of Alabama. 

Earlier this year, a surprising event occurred. Every August, UA sororities conduct formal recruitment, a process to recruit new members that involves a week of meetings, parties and, of course, outfits. The process of rush is pretty familiar to the average UA student. If a student is surprised by the magnitude of rush their freshman year, they are certainly accustomed to it three years later. 

What usually goes unnoticed by people outside of our campus became a national topic of conversation. During the week of recruitment, “Bama Rush TikTok” became its own subculture on the app, attracting viewers from around the world. What started as a few incoming freshmen posting their outfits of the day quickly became national discourse, even featuring debates about topics such as how our culture defines femininity.

Verdict: True. 

While the average person can’t understand the intricacies of the TikTok algorithm, it’s not surprising that Greek life on campus inspired so much national interest. As the biggest Panhellenic organization in the country, accounting for 35% of the UA student population, Greek life has a strong presence on campus. 

Due to its presence on campus, The CW has a vital role in the coverage of Greek life. At The CW, we seek to delve deeper into Greek life and how it represents our campus. We have historically championed its successes and acknowledged its shortcomings.  

Because we represent the University, Greek life and other UA organizations shape our identity. People following Bama Rush TikTok weren’t completely off the mark: An institution of such a size and history is a great place to start conversations about what we stand for as a university. 

What now?

These are not the only rumors that circulate about The University of Alabama. Such a well-known institution will always be a subject of interest for a national audience, but we maintain our commitment to verifying the validity of these rumors and providing a student perspective on the narratives that define the University.

News does not exist in a vacuum; the narratives we tell shape our legacy as a university. It is for this reason that the editorial board is emboldened to write narratives worth reading. We are honored to join national news outlets in the practice of journalism, for despite any differences we have, our goal is the same: to inform our campus community.

This story was published in the Rumor Edition. View the complete issue here.

Questions? Email the Opinions desk at letters@cw.ua.edu.