A Texas A&M University student who was disqualified after winning the most votes for student body president has asked a court for permission to take sworn statements in preparation for a possible lawsuit on religious, due process and other grounds.
Lawyers for Robert McIntosh filed the petition Thursday in state district court in Brazos County seeking to depose Amy Loyd, Rachel Keathley and Aaron Mitchell. Loyd is assistant director of student activities at A&M, according to the school’s website. Keathley is a business honors senior and student elections commissioner, while Mitchell is listed as a law student.
A&M’s student-run judicial court disqualified McIntosh for failing to report a campaign expensive — namely, glow sticks used in a video. As a result, Bobby Brooks was declared the victor, making him the first openly gay student body president at the College Station campus.
Former Texas governor and current U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, an alumnus of A&M, has suggested that a diversity agenda was behind the disqualification — an allegation strenuously denied by the university.
McIntosh’s court papers say he wants to investigate whether he was disqualified “based on the fact that he is a heterosexual, white, Christian male.” Furthermore, he wants to determine whether he has “actionable claims” for violation of his state and federal religious, due process and civil rights.
McIntosh is represented by the law firm of West, Webb, Allbritton & Gentry in College Station.
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 Wednesday that the election of Bobby Brooks was tainted. A student judicial court awarded victory to Brooks after disqualifying the top vote-getter, Robert McIntosh, for failure to report a campaign expense.
Perry, an A&M graduate, said the disqualification was overly harsh, suggesting that the university would not have allowed the election to be overturned if the top vote-getter had been an openly gay student 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 certian 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 welcomed Perry’s support.
“I did not at all expect his editorial and I’m humbled to have his support,” McIntosh told the Battalion, A&M’s student newspaper. “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 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 has 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.