To read part 1 of this article, click here.
Although satirical in nature, all facts, names, and organizations used in this story are entirely true. This story aims to expose a well-established political machine that has been selecting the Student Body President for years. Public information used in this exposé was found via AggieNetwork, Facebook, the Battalion, and organizational websites.
This letter was delivered late last night, March 2nd, to Mugdown HQ addressed from former Student Body President, Jeff Pickering. Unlike his previous letters, we were expecting this one. However, that does not mean we were ready for it. The following are the unaltered contents of his letter:
Darkness. Shadows. The tools of cowards. My tools. The tools of a man beaten but not defeated. A man who has been forced by the hand dealt to him by fate to sling mud from the most shaded corners of the globe. But, I must do what I can to bring forth the light. With this letter, I will drag the three prime movers of the Texas A&M government with me into the dazzling glare of the public eye.
As I stated in my previous letter, The Machine runs candidates that are chosen from three primary factions of the campus – the Fish Aides, the Aggie Men’s Club, and the Maroon Coats. These three organizations are very nearly a necessity for the candidate himself – or his staff – for that campaign to win.
The first tier: the Fish Aides. For those unaware, Fish Aides is a Freshman Leadership Organization. The most popular unpopular one at that. It operates under a staff of former freshmen – or “sophomores”, if you will – providing unique leadership opportunities to first-year students. Through a seemingly standard application and interview process, a group of 40 freshmen are selected each September. But, what separates Fish Aides from the rest of the FLOs is the pressure of involvement that Fish Aides demands after its members “graduate” from the FLO. Fish Aides selects only four freshmen to return as Staff for the following year while the remaining freshmen return as sophomore mentors to the new class of freshmen Fish Aides. These “parents” continue the traditions of building a highly connected network that encompasses all SGA committees. Like a black widow spider, their web of connections grows and grows, while the Fish Aides wait in the center of all activity plucking the strings to watch the world dance in fear.
During a freshman’s tenure in Fish Aides, each Fish serves as an ‘aide’ to a committee in Student Government. This means there is a Fish Aide that assists with Muster, The Big Event, COSGA, Traditions Council, Student Senate, Election Commission, Executive Vice President and many other committees. This, along with the constant contact from former Fish Aides, make for an extremely well-connected group of individuals comprising the foundation of The Machine. These freshmen know you do not just become The Machine’s candidate. You have to work from the bottom up scavenging what connections and information they can. If there is one thing those freshmen know, it is that information is power – and the amount of information these freshmen possess is prodigious. And, no one man should have all that power.
The second tier – the Aggie Men’s Club (AMC). AMC is a non-Greek fraternal organization that focuses on developing members physically, emotionally, and spiritually all while serving Texas A&M. AMC is known for selecting high-caliber individuals who later serve in leadership roles around all of campus; one look at our SBP resume list and that is obvious. Sometimes they just cut out the middle man and select people who are already prominent leaders on campus. By observing past SBP campaign teams, I found that if that particular candidate was not a member of AMC, many of his staff and support was. Hell, we’ll probably see a female SBP before a winning campaign with no AMC connection. Here’s looking at you, Hilary Albrecht.
This group popped up more times in my research than any other organization. It seems that the “in” committee changed every few years – about ten years ago it was COSGA. Now, one could argue it is the Big Event. However, like our university’s storied traditions, some things don’t change, and AMC remains the cornerstone of successful SBP campaigns.
The third tier – the Maroon Coats. Maroon Coats is the ultimate end goal of many involved student leaders at Texas A&M. Maroon Coats is a highly-prestigious organization who serve as ambassadors of Texas A&M to former donors and distinguished alumni through the A&M Foundation. Technically speaking, Maroon Coats is not even a legitimate student organization. They are not recognized by A&M, nor do they want to be. By being an unofficial student organization, Maroon Coats has a freedom most organizations do not – selecting members as they see fit.
By nature of the organization, Maroon Coats only selects highly-involved students at A&M. I considered applying for it, but after running an SBP campaign, I had grown weary of popularity contests and petty politics. With the liberty to choose who they want to join, the selection process quickly devolves into a popularity contest.
I had seen too many good men put on that maroon coat of entitlement and wanted nothing to do with it. That’s not to say Maroon Coats isn’t a fine organization. The Texas A&M Foundation does great things for this university and Maroon Coats are an important reason we have such a strong donor base. It’s like I always say though, with a great coat come great responsibility.
The Machine is built upon these three tiers and has been since its inception. My advice: if you want to become student body president consider joining one or more of these groups. However, If you value your freedom – think twice, my friends.
-Jeff Pickering ‘12
Don’t be deceived though, the Machine does not end here. It is a combination of reputation, prestige, and connectedness that makes this group so effective. This is a three-part exposé. In part three, I will ask the hard question: what does this mean for A&M?
To read part 1 of this article, click here.