What Is the Machine in ‘Bama Rush’? The Truth Behind The University of Alabama Rush Week

Emma Saletta - Author

May 7 2023, Published 11:53 a.m. ET

University of Alabama students during pledge week.
Source: HBO Max

Today, there are 24 sororities at The University of Alabama, the school at which the upcoming HBO Max documentary Bama Rush explores.

The trailer begins by showing the fun side of pledging and bidding, but it all comes crumbling down as soon as students begin to ask about the Machine.

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A lot goes into rush week at The University of Alabama, and one YouTube user even commented on the trailer that sorority life is "so different up [north] in terms of recruitment and how Greek life is." Regarding the Machine and rush week at The University of Alabama, here are some must-know details below!

The Machine wasn't the best term to use during The University of Alabama rush week in the past.

The Machine is a secret society at The University of Alabama that was said to have brought "glory" to the school. However, it's also allegedly been behind several controversial incidents, and has since been suspected in cross burnings, election interference, and physical assaults on students.

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A documentary about the Machine was also released back in 2022 at the SIDEWALK Film Festival titled MACHINE: Vivat Apparatus, which shows the society in a more negative light. It's second screening took place in March 2023, but has since not been scheduled to play anywhere else this year.

The Machine in the present day has continued to dim down the excitement of The University of Alabama rush week.

In the present day, the Machine is not exactly a secret club anymore, and has instead been described as a not-so-secret underground organization that has historically influenced student elections. Students featured in the Bama Rush trailer couldn't help but look uncomfortable as soon as it was brought up, with one student looking to change the conversation right away.

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One notable incident that may explain this reaction took place in 2004, when University of Alabama freshman Emeline Aviki decided to run for a student government position without the support of the Machine. "After you pledge, the Machine rep tells you the gist of the Machine and comes out and says, 'You do what we say or else. You don't want to mess with us,'" she told the Crimson White.

Following the incident, Emeline transferred to Duke University after her freshmen year, citing "emotional and psychological toll" from the campaign. It is unconfirmed if this incident or any others will be mentioned in Bama Rush.

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It's unknown how the Machine will be addressed during University of Alabama rush week.

Not only will the documentary show videos of rush, but it will also show TikTok videos of potential members during rush week, which contributed to the popular hashtag #BamaRush.

However, members will also go into deeper conversations about pledge week, with the press release stating that the documentary will explore "the emotional complexities and stakes of belonging in this crucial window into womanhood.”

The upcoming documentary Bama Rush will be available to stream on HBO Max starting on May 23, 2023.

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