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It’s been 40 years since the University of Alabama has elected a Black president for its Student Government Association. Junior Elliot Spillers, who was elected this spring, faces continuing opposition from a white secret society at the school collectively known as “The Machine.”

Spillers, who hails from Pelham, Ala., is only the second Black person to hold the SGA president’s position, the first being Cleo Thomas who was elected in 1976. According to reports, Spillers reached out across several fraternities and sororities on the campus to secure the vote. Despite recorded accounts of sabotage to his campaign, Spillers won 8,602 of 14, 963 votes.

The win hasn’t come without its hardships as Spillers is not part of “The Machine,” a grouping of white Greek letter organizations that have influenced the political and social climate of the school, allegedly, for decades. Spillers is the first non-Machine candidate to win in quite some time, noteworthy considering the ongoing positioning the group is undertaking to undermine the newly elected president’s rule.

The SGA Senate has blocked some of Spillers’ appointments in key positions for the 2015-16 school year, and even tried to appoint one of their own. A local newspaper says the Senate is operating under the orders of The Machine. Although Spillers voiced some frustration, he intends to battle back against the Senate to get his agenda in diversifying the campus and push for change within the SGA climate.

In a recent newspaper interview, Thomas said that the political wrangling at the school is just as serious as its sports programs. He also said that the issues Spillers is facing from The Machine, which boasts members in the faculty, is indicative of what happens on the state level with the Alabama government.

(Photo: The Crimson newspaper)

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