**Editor’s Note** The following piece is an opinion and was submitted to Maroon Weekly. It does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of this staff or paper. But we felt it was important to give people the opportunity to read it.
For the first time in 4 years, I have doubts in Aggie leadership. My freshman year I met a person who would later run for Student Body President. He is incredibly kind, motivated, and bright.
He won the student body’s support easily. His campaign revolved around the students and what he could do for them, not the other way around.
However, after a clear and decisive win, the decision was taken away from the students. The first attempt to disqualify the Mcintosh campaign came from “anonymous” videos claiming to contain voter intimidation. The videos contained footage of campaign team members walking alongside students asking them to vote. First of all, if an overzealous twenty-something boy walking next to you and asking for your vote intimidates you, you are going to have a tough time later in life. With that aside, multiple people who were allegedly being intimidated in the video came forward and testified that they felt in no way compelled or intimidated. The Judicial Court overturned the charges.
The regulations for Student Government Association elections are not necessarily disqualification-heavy. That is because they were not written to give the judicial court the authority to disregard democracy. They were written to keep things in order. For example, the charge of voter intimidation could be summed up as very passionate supporters potentially overstepping. Article III section C states that:
“The candidate will be held responsible for the actions taken by his/her supporters. Any violation of the regulations by a supporter of a candidate could result in a fine for the candidate.”
However, while Mcintosh supporters waiting nervously for the voter-intimidation charge to be overturned, they were not worried about a fine. They were worried about disqualification because that has become the norm of J-court’s power.
The next charge was equally if not more punctilious as the first. A playful campaign video involving a multitude of jumping, dancing students would soon become the downfall of the Mcintosh campaign. The video was filmed before a glow event, and therefore the glow sticks were not purchased in conjunction with the Mcintosh campaign, but were most likely used as a last-ditch effort to add something extra to the informal video. The Judicial board found grounds for disqualification on the basis that glow sticks were used in a campaign video and were not accounted for in the financial report.
At first, people may blame the regulations for paying scrupulous attention to technicalities. But in this case, the regulations in no way called for disqualification. The three violation tiers are:
a. Tier 1
Minor offenses. Normally infractions resulting in a fine between $.25 and $2.00. Examples of such infractions include minor pre-campaigning, minor electronic violations, minor financing violations, etc.
b. Tier 2
Moderate offenses. Normally resulting in a fine between $5.00 and $25.00. Examples of such infractions include late finance reports, unintentional campaign sabotage (such as a candidate’s supporter tearing down an opponent’s signs unbeknownst to the candidate), moderate pre- campaigning, moderate electronic violations, etc.
c. Tier 3
Serious offenses. Normally resulting in a fine between $25 and the maximum finable amount per offense, or disqualification. Examples of such infractions include falsified documents, intentional campaign sabotage, voting fraud or coercion, serious ethics and/or Honor Code violations, etc. Repeated Tier 2 violations may also be classified as Tier 3.
This minor financial error clearly should fall under a tier 1 violation, which would result in a $.25 to $2.00 fine. The judicial court took this violation from a twenty-five cent fine to disqualification. This is a crystal clear example of abuse of power. Judicial court’s role in the election process should be aimed at maintaining honest and fair elections to ensure democracy, NOT finding minor technicalities to sway the election in their favor.
The next question is why? Why would they take the vote away from the students? Easy. First of all, Robert Mcintosh is a member of a well-respected men’s club, which is often grouped with fraternities at Texas A&M.
It is no secret that A&M is not a greek school. The stereotypes surrounding greek organizations do not paint a pleasant picture, and therefore, the bias in student leadership is clear: they do not want a greek SBP. I find this abhorrent. I cannot speak for each greek member, but I will say that the mass majority of greek students I know at Texas A&M embody everything I think an Aggie should: service, friendship, passion, leadership, scholarship, and much more. Judging a candidate based on his philanthropic association is counterintuitive to the message we are trying to uphold in our community today.
Secondly, the runner up, and now current winner for SBP, is openly gay. While this milestone at Texas A&M would be incredibly exciting if Bobby had indeed won the votes of the student body, that is not the case. However, the expected headlines and publicity that A&M would garner from Bobby’s victory must have been enough for SGA to rob the victory of a fellow Aggie.
Regardless of who you support, and regardless of the hidden motives behind the disqualification, you should be angry. You should be angry because the judicial court decided that their voice was more important than yours, in hushed tones in a private room.