Printer-Friendly Version

"Campus vote held up after assault reported"
Jim Yardley
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
February 2, 1993

Birmingham, Ala. - Less than 24 hours after a candidate for student body president said she was assaulted, the University of Alabama on Monday suspended next week's campus elections and temporarily shut down the student government. "Because of continuing reports of campaign mischief, intimidation and now physical violence,...student elections and the student government association [will] be suspended until such time as our students can be assured that the methods and procedures for electing a student government association are free, fair and open," university President Roger Sayres said.

He offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the attack.

On Sunday night, candidate Minda Riley was assaulted by a masked man carrying a knife as she returned home, according to Tuscaloosa police reports. Ms. Riley, 21, said the man fled after she hit him with a lamp.

The campus newspaper, The Crimson White, reported that Ms. Riley suffered a bruised cheek and a knife cut.

On Nov. 29, Ms. Riley had reported finding a cross burned into her front yard and two threatening messages: "Tonight crossbones burn, next time your skeleton head will burn," and "Machine Rules Bitch."

For six decades, campus politics at Alabama have been dominated by "the Machine," a secret group of fraternity and sorority members that has controlled elections with bloc voting.

In turn, the Machine, which endorses a slate of candidates, controls patronage and a student budget of roughly $300,000.

Ms. Riley, who had been a member of a Machine sorority, announced last year that she would run against the group and promised to reform the political system and break the Machine.

"They're shutting down student government, and I love it," said Michael Rogers, 20, a sophomore from Atlanta. "A lot of people are happy to see that some real action is being taken. It's about time something was done about the Machine's intimidation of campus politics."

The campus elections had been scheduled for Feb. 10-11.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.