Secretary of Energy and former Texas governor Rick Perry published an op-ed with The Houston Chronicle Wednesday, criticizing the 2017 SGA student body president election results, in which Bobby Brooks won after losing the popular vote to Robert McIntosh, who was disqualified for failing to file an expense report.
Perry, who is Class of 1972 and a two-time Yell Leader, cited specific grievances with the disqualification of McIntosh, asking for answers from the A&M Board of Regents and claiming the Judicial Court decision was one made from a desire to push diversity, and not to fairly punish McIntosh.
Perry specifically noted the severity of the infraction as his main objection with McIntosh’s disqualification.
“In its opinion, the Judicial Court admitted that the charges were minor and technical, but, incredibly, chose to uphold the disqualification, with no consideration given to whether the punishment fit the crime,” Perry wrote in his op-ed. “The desire of the electorate is overturned, and thousands of student votes are disqualified because of free glow sticks that appeared for 11 seconds of a months-long campaign. Apparently, glow sticks merit the same punishment as voter intimidation.”
McIntosh, who is a university studies senior, said he was unaware of Perry’s plans to write a op-ed and appreciates the Secretary’s comments, which he feel gives validity to his cause.
“I'm thankful for Secretary Perry's support of fairness in the Houston Chronicle today. I did not at all expect his editorial and I'm humbled to have his support,” McIntosh said. “He made a compelling case which I fully support and continue to fight for. Our campaign team won the election and was subsequently disqualified unfairly. Diversity, at it's heart, is equal treatment of all, and we hope this situation is resolved in a way that ensures a fair and more transparent process now and in future elections.”
After citing his reasons for writing the op-ed, Perry then questioned A&M’s push for diversity. Perry said he feels that Brooks’ sexuality swayed the outcome of the election, though Brooks did not include his sexuality as a part of his campaign platform.
“Every Aggie ought to ask themselves: How would they act and feel if the victim was different?” Perry wrote. “What if McIntosh had been a minority student instead of a white male? What if Brooks had been the candidate disqualified? Would the administration and the student body have allowed the first gay student body president to be voided for using charity glow sticks? Would the student body have allowed a black student body president to be disqualified on anonymous charges of voter intimidation?”
While Perry is requesting answers from the Board of Regents, A&M faculty play no part and do not interfere with the elections of either members of student government or the position of Yell Leader.
Amy Smith, spokeswoman for Texas A&M, expressed a gratitude for Perry’s desire to remain loyal to Texas A&M, but said the university was not, nor could have been, involved in the decision to disqualify McIntosh.
“We appreciate Secretary Perry’s long-term commitment to his alma mater and to the state in general,” Smith said. “We were surprised that he weighed in on the university student body election and respectfully disagree with his assessment. These elections are run by the students with advisors from student affairs and issues that arise are adjudicated in accordance with the Student Government constitution and by-laws.”
Vice Chancellor of Marketing and Communication for the TAMU System Laylan Copelin referred The Battalion to Smith as well.
Smith went on to indicate that McIntosh was not given unequal treatment because of Brooks’ sexuality as Perry implied.
“The disqualification of the leading vote-getter resulted in the certification of Bobby Brooks as the next Student Body President effective April 21, 2017,” Smith said. “To suggest that the same decision of disqualification would not have been made if the roles were reversed is to deny the Texas A&M of today where accountability applies to all.”
Smith said looking forward, the university supports the office of Student Body President and will be excited to work with him in the 2017-2018 academic year.
“Bobby Brooks, in this role, represents all students of all backgrounds,” Smith said. “I know that he takes this responsibility seriously and we look forward to working with him.”
Chief Justice of the Texas A&M J-Court Shelby James and Election Commissioner Rachel Keathley declined to comment at the present time, as did Brooks.