Political Animal


April 04, 2013 12:44 PM Aggie Conservatism

By Ed Kilgore

The Texas A&M University Student Senate made some unfortunate news late last night:

After three hours of emotional debate, the Texas A&M Student Senate voted 35-28 Wednesday night to approve an anti-gay measure that would allow students to opt out of funding the campus GLBT Resource Center if they have religious objections.
Less than 24 hours before the vote, the name of the bill was changed from the “GLBT Funding Opt Out Bill” to the “The Religious Funding Exemption Bill,” and specific references to the GLBT Resource Center were removed. However, opponents of the bill who packed a Student Senate meeting before the vote Wednesday said the name change did not alter the bill’s discriminatory, anti-gay intent.

This will be bruited about as evidence that support for gay rights isn’t as universal among young people as is usually assumed (or perhaps even that the worm is turning with the latest batch of kids, as RCP’s Sean Trende suggested in his latest argument against “demographic destiny.”)

But we need to remember Texas A&M is a special place, particularly among large public universities. In a 2009 survey by the Princeton Review, A&M ranked eighth among the “10 most socially conservative colleges.” And none of the others (Brigham Young, Grove City, the University of Dallas, Notre Dame, Wheaton, Furman, and the Air Force, Army and Merchant Marine military academies) is a state university. It’s got a strong military tradition; it’s in the conservative evangelical hotbed of East Texas; and it’s got (as anyone who’s known an Aggie can tell you) a extraordinarily strong sense of having a distinct cultural identity.

More specifically, in 2011 Princeton Review offered a list of the Most LGBT-Unfriendly Colleges, and A&M ranked 10th (with much of the same company, though the three service academies on the “socially conservative” list dropped off, which is a good thing).

So last night’s action shouldn’t surprise anybody. Indeed, you could make the argument that the internal unhappiness over the measure was more surprising than the result, and could lead to its failure:

A&M Student Body President John Claybrook says he has not decided whether to veto the measure. The closer-than-expected margin of passage means the Senate may not have the votes to override a veto by Claybrook.

Now that would be news.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • RT on April 04, 2013 12:57 PM:

    Interesting that the US Naval Academy is not on the "10 most socially conservative colleges" list. #11, perhaps?

    [Captcha: "men efewshA". Looking for efewsha men?]

  • RaflW on April 04, 2013 1:06 PM:

    Look, it's way more basic than that: Texas voted roughly 76-24 to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage just eight years ago.

    Only one county in the entire state voted no: Travis County, home of Austin and all those damn hippies and libertarian computer millionaires.

    Texas is deep-south when it comes to LGBT issues. Sure Houston and Dallas have urban cores that are cosmopolitain enough to welcome some diversity (just look at Houston's mayor), but it'll be decades before the worm turns in the bulk of TX.

  • Tom Hamill on April 04, 2013 1:13 PM:

    I'd note that in the Washington Monthly college rankings, Texas A&M is number two. It shows to me that these numeric rankings often don't provide all the information one might need to make an informed decision.

  • Karen on April 04, 2013 1:14 PM:

    I am enjoying a rare moment of Longhorn Schadenfreude. We were gay-friendly back in the 80's.

    Still, I feel for my liberal Aggie friends. I can't help but think that this is going to change soon, since A&M operates under the restrict admission policy. Very few top 10% kids are going to be this obnoxious.

  • Bruce Hunt on April 04, 2013 1:15 PM:

    There's a degree of self-sorting that goes on among Texas kids who do well in high school: the more conservative ones go to A&M, and the more liberal ones to UT-Austin. And a lot of those kids stick around Austin once they're done. (Not so many stick around Bryan-College Station, just because it's smaller -- but the hometowns they go back to are probably more like Aggieland than like Austin, anyway.) The difference is probably starkest on LGBT issues (well, and maybe environmental ones), but it runs through just about everything.

  • TZ on April 04, 2013 1:34 PM:

    Could a student opt out of funding christian organizations based on religious views?

  • boatboy_srq on April 04, 2013 1:36 PM:

    Aggies (Texas A&M grads) have a bad reputation for being intellect-challenged even among Texans. There's plenty of Texan urban legends describing A&M as one-half remedial ed on steroids and one-half public sector equivalent to Regent U, and describing Aggies as being barely qualified to tie their own shoelaces. This sort of behavior is only surprising to folks who don't know the school.

    @RalfW: Texas is deep-south when it comes to issues, LGBT or otherwise.

  • Yastreblyansky on April 04, 2013 1:36 PM:

    I hope students will take advantage of the measure, if it goes through, to refuse seeing their dues go to fund Aggie Sisters for Christ, Believers' LoveWorld Campus Ministry, Destino, Doulos, Kappa Upsilon Chi, ReJOYce in Jesus Campus Fellowship, and other suspicious recognized organizations (https://studentactivities.tamu.edu/app/search/index/index/search/category?q=Religious).

    My Captcha says "should inclopt". Indeed!

  • schtick on April 04, 2013 1:56 PM:

    Why the surprise about the college youth voting against LGBT? It is Texas, after all.

  • c u n d gulag on April 04, 2013 2:01 PM:

    This is Texas A & M we're talking about here.

    The GLBT Resource Center will now probably be replaced by The Human & Animal Love Resource Center.

    "Don't my heifer over there got the prettiest eye's you ever seen?"

  • Kathryn on April 04, 2013 2:31 PM:

    Didn't Rick Perry go there, enough said?

  • Rick Massimo on April 04, 2013 2:41 PM:

    I wonder how a proposal letting students opt out of funding the ROTC would fare ...

  • Werewolf on April 04, 2013 3:00 PM:

    @Kathryn: Louie Gohmert also, too.

  • Buzzed on Beans on April 04, 2013 3:12 PM:

    Ermagerd! I don't know what all the fuss is about. Have you ever met a gay person stupid enough to get into A&M? I sure haven't, and all the gay people I've known from Texas got the hell out of that shithole state as soon as they had a high-school diploma in hand.

  • Rc on April 04, 2013 8:43 PM:

    While attending the dump (note that the grad programs and faculty are really good, the undergrads mostly suck), a gay grad school friend told me that the Corps of Cadets, A& M 's treasured relic from its military academy days, was about a quarter gay. This is an extremely attractive group to guys that love the military and the macho culture of the CoC. He never stopped laughing about it.

  • Corbin Supak on April 04, 2013 10:52 PM:

    ditto Bruce Hunt and ditto Rc.
    There's only one thing left to say...
    (in a slow gospel mourn) "Pooooor Aggies" "Poooooor Aggies"

  • bigtuna on April 05, 2013 12:55 PM:

    When I went there in the 80s [as a grad student], stories, many verified, of the homoerotic nature of many of the corp of cadet "traditions" was impressive.

  • Shayna on April 05, 2013 3:25 PM: