Through the years: CW news headlines, editorials shine light on campus history


CW File

The Crimson White took a stroll down memory lane, scanning for headlines that captured pivotal moments in the University’s history. Due to the inaccessibility of some archives, this timeline starts in the 1950s and continues on, capturing Machine coverage, integration, sexual assault cases and student protest. 



  • Dean of students resigns after pictures of past tweets surface: The CW broke news of a dean’s resignation the same day Breitbart published his former tweets, which criticized police brutality and American nationalism. The story attracted national attention, and in the ensuing protests, students urged the administration to provide answers and address issues of racism and exclusion on campus. 
  • Emails show candidate was offered, quickly terminated from OSM director position: A CW investigation revealed that a candidate for the director of the Office of Student Media had been hired and fired following the publication of ethical concerns against him.  



  • SGA president arrested for DUI: A semester into his term, Hunter was arrested for a DUI, and he resigned from his position a day later. 


  • University Elections Board resigns: Jared Hunter was elected SGA president in 2017, making him the first African American student to win the position with the support of the Machine. Early in his term, however, the SGA Elections Board submitted a letter of resignation, citing Hunter’s campaign violations, including his public acknowledgment of his involvement in the Machine. Hunter was arrested for a DUI in 2018 and resigned immediately after.



  • Behind Closed Doors: In 2015 The Crimson White devoted an entire edition to covering sexual assault on campus. Ten months later, the CW revisited the issue, urging the University to address sexual assault, listing current resources, and telling the stories of those affected. 



  • We Are Done hosts demonstration to promote change on campus: The student group We Are Done protested to demand the University increase diversity on campus to combat Machine influence and pressure the University to acknowledge the existence of the Machine. 
  • Elliot Spillers wins the SGA presidency: Elliot Spillers was elected the first African American SGA president at The University of Alabama in nearly 40 years, making him the first non-Machine candidate to win the position since 1986. 
  • Why I’m leaving the Machine: Alex Smith, an SGA senator for the College of Arts and Sciences at the time, wrote an editorial for The Crimson White about her decision to stop working with the Machine. 



  • ‘Not a day for a murder’: CW staff revisited the unsolved murders of UA students Paula Lee Ellis and Ronald Perryman, revealing that the cases had remained cold until the local police department installed devoted investigators to them in 2012. Today, both crimes are still unsolved.



  • Our View: Judge Roberts chose wrong side in Board of Education case: Emails from alleged members of the Machine show sorority and fraternity members were coerced to vote a certain way in a local school board election in exchange for rewards, such as limousine transportation to polling stations and free drinks at local bars. A candidate who lost their bid for the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education election filed a lawsuit after alleged Machine influence, but the case was dismissed by county court judge Jim Roberts.


  • The Final Barrier: 50 years later, segregation still exists: The Crimson White exposed Panhellenic sororities for barring black women from membership. The investigation changed policies and led to the formal integration of the Greek system. Today, however, racial diversity in historically white sororities and fraternities is still abysmal.



  • Tornado Archive: Often left without power or internet, The CW staff wrote over 40 articles covering the aftermath of an EF4 tornado that destroyed much of Tuscaloosa. 




  • Surreal: UA community stunned after terrorism in New York, D.C.: The Crimson White localized national coverage of the 9/11 attacks by covering resident concerns for safety and economic downturn. 



  • Presidential candidates receive threats: Fabien Zinga, a black student who ran for SGA president as an independent, received racial threats that he blamed on the Machine. 



  • Arson damages Tuscaloosa women’s clinic: The West Alabama Women’s Center, which provided local reproductive care, was set on fire and forced to close. The Crimson White followed this case as officers searched for suspects. 



  • Sayers, Knopke suspend SGA: The University suspended the SGA until 1996 after a non-Machine candidate for SGA president that year was assaulted at her home and a burning cross was placed in her yard. The victim was reported to have sustained “a golf ball-size bruise on her cheek, a busted lip and a knife wound on the side of her face.” Months before the attack, a cross had been burned on her front lawn and threatening messages were found in her mailbox. 


  • 4,000 copies of the CW ‘swiped’: About 4,000 copies of The Crimson White were stolen, allegedly by the Machine, in an effort to prevent students from reading an exposé on the political organization the day before SGA elections.


  • Viselli: Inspirational campaign: The CW published an editorial honoring the candidacy of Joey Viselli, an independent SGA presidential candidate who lost by a narrow margin. Viselli, the son of the owner of a local pizza chain, claimed his father’s restaurant, Bama-Bino Pizza, was forced to close after Greeks boycotted the restaurant to punish Viselli for running against the Machine. Viselli claimed one of his campaign workers was beaten and that he received bomb threats. 


  • Cross-burning ‘prank’ provokes unrest: A cross was burned outside of a house that Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically black sorority, was considering using as a residence for members. No charges were filed in the cross burning, though it was rumored the Machine was involved. 
  • Merrill nabs senator ‘rambling’ in office: Independent candidate for SGA president John Merrill discovered two alleged members of the Machine breaking into his office. One of Merrill’s campaign workers claimed his car had been run off the road while returning to campus from home and Merrill’s wife was allegedly threatened with rape by the Machine. 


  • Violence is nothing new in SGA elections: The FBI investigated the 1983 SGA election after newly elected independent SGA President John Bolus found someone was tapping his phone.


  • Cleo Thomas wins by a wide margin: Cleo Thomas became the first African American SGA president and the first African American to defeat the Machine. 
  • Crosses burned after election: Shortly after, 15 men in white sheets burned a cross, threw bottles and chanted “revolutionary tunes” on campus.



  • Campus under police siege; flames gut Dressler gym: The campus shut down in May of 1970 after students lined streets to protest the shooting at Kent State. In its May 4 issue, the Crimson White chronicled the protests with expansive stories and photo essays and included an editorial in remembrance of those who lost their lives at Kent State and urging peace. 
  • Grimm is pawn of FBI, ACLU attorney says: Amid unrest, Dressler Hall, a gymnasium set to be demolished, burned down, and the act of arson was blamed on Charles Grimm, a student protester. Grimm was later charged as an FBI informant. 




  • Needed: More students, less pickets: Vivian Malone Jones was the first African American student to receive a degree from the University. But, when she set foot on campus with classmate James Hood, they were met with resistance by fellow students and state officials. In a guest editorial following then-governor George Wallace’s infamous Stand in the Schoolhouse Door, Hood argued for the importance of education, and its superiority over other methods of protest.




  • A Bell Rang: After James Meredith, who would later become a civil rights activist, was barred from attending the University of Mississippi, the CW published an editorial stating that black students had legal rights to attend Southern universities. The editorial received backlash from White Citizens Councilors, who petitioned the Board of Trustees to fire the editor, Mel Meyer.




  • Letters Flood Office: The CW reprinted excerpts from about 100 letters amid the suspension of Autherine Lucy Foster, the University’s first African American student whose enrollment was resisted by a violent mob. Several of the letters condemned the actions of the mob, but many lauded the University’s decision to expel Lucy Foster and “keep the University white.”