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"IVA board claims proof of Machine"
Philip A. Sitton
The Crimson White
March 6, 2002


A bulletin board in the Ferguson Center now holds what Independent Voters Association Chairman John Beasley calls "proof that the Machine exists on our campus" for public display.

Beasley said the IVA-reserved bulletin board display bears paraphernalia claiming to be from the secretive greek organization Theta Nu Epsilon, locally known as the Machine. The Machine is a select coalition of traditionally white fraternities and sororities designed to influence campus politics.

The board, set up Monday night, displays an information sheet entitled "Theta Nu Epsilon, Alive and Well at UA," and a T-shirt bearing the greek letters.

The flier, which says it was published in 1989, makes several bold statements about Theta Nu Epsilon's prominence on campus.

"We are proud of our history at the University," it says. "Theta Nu Epsilon has elected an SGA president 68 times in the 75 years of the SGA's existence. This is because the SGA is ours. Our brethren formed it in 1914."

IVA Executive Director Jeff Jensen said this board helps to prove the Machine is present on the University campus.

"I think that [information] and the large bloc vote you see time after time proves their existence," he said.

Jensen said Theta Nu Epsilon shirts are not incredibly uncommon, and he has seen them before. Many of the shirts feature the organization's seal, a skull with crossed keys.

"There's a lot of shirts with the skull and keys. They're usually older shirts," he said. "You have to look for them."

Student reaction to the board seems mixed. Bradley Horton, a junior majoring in management information systems, did not seem to think much of the information.

"I truly wish the IVA would develop a platform that didn't primarily consist of anti-greek propaganda," he said.

Junior biology major Carson Bedingfield said she already knew the Machine existed.

"I didn't have any doubt that the Machine existed beforehand," Bedingfield said. "From experience, the independent candidates have never really stood a chance, because whoever the Machine supports is going to be elected."

Jensen said a lot of people who are currently in the Student Government Association walk by the display and laugh, but others find it interesting.

"A lot of people have told me they thought it was a good idea," Beasley said. "One person even called it a 'ball-buster.' It sure does open your eyes."

Jensen also pointed out www.tne.org, which claims to be the official Web site of Theta Nu Epsilon. As of press time, the University is listed on its "chapter" page, and its home page features cryptic language strongly reminiscent of past situations at the University.

"In the 1990's a major Southern university's SGA was banned," it says. "Was this due to the 'devil's own?' When elections were held after the reinstatment (sic) of the SGA ... guess who won?!"

Asked the origin of the paraphernalia, Beasley said only that it came from an alumnus.