The University of Alabama has been teaching me an important lesson on power.
I felt powerless when I watched limos pull into the parking lot in front of me as I held a sign for Kelly Horwitz, and students exited gleaming black doors to vote for free drinks.
I felt powerless when I turned the pages of an article in the CW about black girls once again being denied entrance into sororities. I had read a similar article the year before. And the year before that. And the year before that…and nothing has changed.
My facebook feed in the past month has turned into a log of injustice. Scrolling through it, it appears I no longer have original thoughts, merely a copy and paste record of inequality in what is usually a vain attempt to make people care.
Many Alabama students live in apathy. At Alabama, when you fight the system, you inevitably lose. If you’re not part of a deeply ingrained and elite group, you have an extremely small voice. In my four years here, I have felt that every sign I’ve held was not seen, every article I’ve written was not read, every time I shouted I was not heard. The only time I win is when I cheer for the Crimson Tide.
So the joy I felt when shit finally started to truly hit the fan is indescribable. The nation was paying attention. Because as the students, faculty, and community members here have learned, it appears the sole way to effect change is through shaming. And the only entity capable of this is the national media.
My friends back home in Ohio have always been baffled by my choice to go to Alabama. I’m not a football fanatic. I’m not racist. I’m a non-hunting vegetarian. In most minds, this is not the profile of a typical Alabama student (y’all, please check your stereotypes.) I go to Alabama because the people here are amazing. And I have never been more proud of my fellow students.
The students who stood in the hellish Alabama sun nearly all day outside the voting center to support Kelly. The classmates, many of which were sorority girls, who were nearly crying with frustration at the situation and who discussed it in every class. The CW writers and editors, who took personal risks to publish these stories.
As one classmate in a sorority said, “they said not to talk about this, but, honestly, I don’t care. None of us care. It was time a long time ago. We all want this to change.”
The vast majority of UA students are not corrupt, they have a conscience, and they are bringing change.
Roll tide to us.