In the fight to ensure better representation of UAB's interests on the University of Alabama Board of Trustees, it looks like #FreeUAB and everyone affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham have made a potentially powerful enemy.
University of Alabama Tuscaloosa Alumni Association President Jimmy Warren released a statement condemning Alabama Senate Bill 348, which would give UAB and UA-Huntsville "a real, genuine presence" on the Board of Trustees by adding two trustees for each campus. The Bill would expand the total number of Trustees from 17 to 21.
Let's break this down, bit by bit.
"Currently all members of the Board of Trustees serve the System as a whole."
When the will of an entire campus is subdued and an unpopular president continues to keep his job at the behest of the Board of Trustees, it's hard to say the BoT supports the "whole" system.
"The Bill would inject politics into the selection of Trustees and pit our campuses against each other."
One thing you often can count on bullies, politicians, and some PR/marketing people to do is falsely accuse the wronged parties of the exact action the perpetrator was taking to bully the victim in the first place. There's already plenty of politics involved in the selection of Trustees--and it all involves a de facto loyalty test of any potential Trustee and whether they view the UA system exclusively through crimson glasses.
As a result of the systematic denial of fair representation of UAB on the BoT, the Board itself has already done a damn good job of pitting the campuses against each other. Warren's letter will only inflame those tensions.
"The issue is driven by a small group who want to take our valuable academic funding and divert it to fund football at UAB."
Another common political smear tactic is to put words in the victim's mouth and make wildly untrue assertions about said victim's requests and/or demands. Not once have UAB students, faculty, or staff asked to divert "our" (nice Freudian slip, no?) funding from Tuscaloosa to fund UAB football.
This statement also shows a profound ignorance on how UAB football is actually funded in the first place.
Mr. Jimmy Warren, UA NAS President, not a single dollar has ever been diverted from UA academics to pay for UAB athletics. #FreeUAB— BlazerTalk.com (@BlazerTalk) April 13, 2015
@BlazerTalk Exactly. The state budget is appropriated per university, not per university system.— UAB Backward (@UABBackward) April 13, 2015
Not only is this a grossly false narrative, but it also completely misses the point on the actual aim of this bill, which is to have more fair and equal representation among a Board of Trustees that has thus far been openly hostile to UAB on issues ranging from athletics to academics to a university's basic right to self-determination.
It also falsely characterizes the goals of #FreeUAB and the Blazer faithful, which is not to negatively affect the prestige and effectiveness of the Tuscaloosa campus in any way, but to give their own alma mater the right to make its own decisions.
Conjuring up a false boogeyman of a UAB/UAH axis looking to suck away resources from Tuscaloosa despite all evidence and a Crimson-stacked Board of Trustees to the contrary is certainly one way to disingenuously play the victim. Playing the victim is yet another oft-used tactic by some PR firms in political campaigns to drum up support, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that the President of a marketing agency is engaging in such chicanery.