March’s Student Government Association election was riddled with controversy as evidence of Presidential candidate Sarah Shield’s involvement with a conservative student group was uncovered.
Shield ran as an independent, anti-Machine candidate. The Crimson White and UA’s International Relations Club both endorsed the candidate in her run against Madeline Martin.
Images surfaced of Shield at a November 2020 Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) the night before the March 8 election. YAF is a national conservative organization for college and high school students with active chapters at schools across the country, including one at the University of Alabama. Shortly after the pictures came to light, organizations endorsing Shield’s candidacy revoked their endorsements, citing her association with YAF. The Crimson WhiteEditorial Board stated:
YAF represents more than conservative ideals. The organization has been consistently linked to racism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and other harmful ideologies. This isn’t an organization of “freedom” or “tradition.” It is an institution of bigotry and extremism. […] Shield, a candidate who claims she supports diversity on campus, cannot easily reconcile YAF involvement with those values. […] We can not endorse a candidate who aligns themselves with YAF’s values.
Shield responded to the controversy in a statement in which she claimed that she was “not a member of YAF, and was simply at this conference for the purposes of networking and civic development.”
In an official statement by the Alabama International Relations Club, the withdrawal of their endorsement was defended in order to “support our members and club’s diverse interests.” They stated further that the “diverse backgrounds and ideologies” of their organization “do not align with YAF.”
YAF responded in their own statement, disagreeing with ideological claims from both organizations.
Martin remains only the unofficial president-elect as her confirmation has yet to take place. Shield’s campaign accused Martin’s of election violations that have yet to be settled. This is an ongoing story.