RICK PERRY WEIGHS IN ON A&M STU­DENT ELEC­TION

Ex-gover­nor sug­gests true vic­tor lost post to agenda for ‘di­ver­sity.’

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Ralph K.M. Hau­r­witz rhau­r­witz@states­man.com

The no­tion, ad­vanced by for­mer Gov. Rick Perry, that a di­ver­sity agenda was some­how be­hind the elec­tion of the first openly gay stu­dent body pres­i­dent at Texas A&M Univer­sity is “just not ac­cu­rate,” a univer­sity spokes­woman said Thurs­day.

Perry, now the U.S. en­ergy sec­re­tary, sug­gested in a Hous­ton Chron­i­cle op-ed col­umn Wed­nes­day that the elec­tion of Bobby Brooks was tainted. A stu­dent ju­di­cial court awarded vic­tory to Brooks, a ju­nior eco­nom­ics ma­jor, af­ter dis­qual­i­fy­ing the top vote-get­ter, Robert McIn­tosh, for fail­ure to re­port a cam­paign ex­pense — specif­i­cally, glow sticks like those used at con­certs and raves. McIn­tosh was cleared of a charge of voter in­tim­i­da­tion.

Perry, an A&M grad­u­ate, wrote that he was ini­tially proud of stu­dents for elect­ing an openly gay man, call­ing it “a tes­ta­ment to the Ag­gie char­ac­ter.” But af­ter learn­ing of the cir­cum­stances, Perry wrote, he con­cluded that the out­come was at best “a mock­ery of due process and trans­parency” and at worst an elec­tion “stolen out­right.”

McIn­tosh’s dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion was overly harsh, Perry said, suggesting that the univer­sity wouldn’t have al­lowed the elec­tion to be over­turned if the top vote-get­ter had been an openly gay stu-

dent ac­cused of a sim­i­lar in­frac­tion.

“Brooks’ pres­i­dency is be­ing treated as a vic­tory for ‘di­ver­sity,’” Perry wrote. “It is dif­fi­cult to es­cape the per­cep­tion that this quest for ‘di­ver­sity’ is the real rea­son the elec­tion out­come was over­turned. Does the prin­ci­ple of ‘di­ver­sity’ over­ride and su­per­sede all other val­ues of our Ag­gie Honor Code?”

A&M spokes­woman Amy B. Smith told the Amer­i­can-States­man: “To say that there was some greater agenda here — it’s just not ac­cu­rate. I’m ab­so­lutely cer­tain that if the roles were re­versed and the can­di­date who was mi­nor­ity or un­der­rep­re­sented on cam­pus vi­o­lated rules, no mat­ter how large or small, the same out­come would be the case.”

McIn­tosh said he was hum­bled to have Perry’s sup­port. “He made a com­pelling case which I fully sup­port and con­tinue to fight for,” McIn­tosh told the Bat­tal­ion, A&M’s stu­dent news­pa­per. “Our cam­paign team won the elec­tion and was sub­se­quently dis­qual­i­fied un­fairly. Di­ver­sity, at its 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.”

Brooks and stu­dent lead­ers of the ju­di­cial court and the elec­tion have de­clined to com­ment, the Bat­tal­ion re­ported.

The dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion stemmed from a video used in McIn­tosh’s cam­paign that in­cluded glow sticks not re­ported on a cam­paign fi­nance re­port. Smith said there is no in­di­ca­tion that the stu­dent ju­di­cial court’s de­ci­sion will be changed.

“It was a vi­o­la­tion that to some may not seem as sig­nif­i­cant as some other things, but to my knowl­edge they fol­lowed the process and fol­lowed the rules and de­ter­mined unan­i­mously with the stu­dent ju­di­cial court that Bobby Brooks is the win­ner,” Smith said.

Perry, who was a yell leader at A&M but not a par­tic­u­larly devoted stu­dent, re­ceiv­ing a “D” in his meats class, sug­gested in his op-ed that the elec­tion events war­rant over­sight. “In­cred­i­bly, it ap­pears that the Board of Re­gents was never in­formed,” he wrote.

A&M Sys­tem spokesman Lay­lan Copelin de­clined to com­ment on that re­mark.

En­ergy Sec­re­tary Rick Perry is un­happy about the A&M vote.

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