Incident at Rick Perry Event Draws National Attention

Students ask Perry incredibly insulting and inappropriate questions.

Students ask Perry incredibly insulting and inappropriate questions.

A Sunday night event hosted by the College Republicans involving a talk with Texas Governor Rick Perry has sparked nationwide controversy after a series of remarks were made by several fringe members of the audience. A group of students including Ben Packer ’17, Emily Sellers ’15, and Timothy Messen ’18 posed multiple questions to Governor Perry criticizing his stances on homosexuality.

The event, which was widely publicized throughout the College and Hanover community, drew a crowd of over 100. Perry opened the event with a discussion about the current political state of affairs, talking about last Tuesday’s midterm elections in which the Republicans gained a majority in the Senate. Following Perry’s presentation, the forum was opened up for questions. College Republicans President Michelle Knesbach ’17 prefaced the question and answer session with a polite request that questions be of a serious, respectful, and productive nature.

Knesbach’s disclaimer was spurred by the discovery of a flyer that had been passed around by Packer prior to the event. The flyer in question encouraged members of the audience to ask sexually inappropriate and offensive questions with the goal of “undermining and mocking the individual and event.” Packer later justified his decision in a Facebook comment, stating “the roomful of people chatting with Rick Perry without discussing his social policy represents Dartmouth poorly… That would be the true failure to engage in meaningful and productive political discourse if it did not challenge what you think to be appropriate, relevant, or ‘necessary.’” However, he had previously asked Perry if he “disliked bootysex because the peeny goes in where the poopy comes out.” Based off Packer’s insinuations, the definition of “meaningful and productive” has changed significantly in recent years.

Sellers, sporting a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “F*CK IVY,” inquired about the Governor’s willingness to engage in anal sex for $102 million, the alleged sum of his campaign donations. Both Sellers’ and Packer’s questions were met with open groans and boos from the audience, and Perry directed the questions to College Republicans’ leadership. Messen, who inquired about the Governor’s misperceived comparison of homosexuality to alcoholism, was faced with a solid answer from Perry, describing his productive professional relationship with Annise Parker, the openly lesbian mayor of Houston.

Knesbach was later quoted in The Daily Dartmouth, stating that the questions “were phrased in incredibly insulting ways” and that the scheme “detracts from the overall political discourse we can have on campus.” She also said, “I think they knew what they were doing was disrespectful; they just wanted to hear me say it.” President of the College Democrats Spencer Blair also condemned the actions, deeming them “unnecessary and inappropriate, and they represented Dartmouth poorly… we encourage all productive political discourse and engagement on campus and fully condemn this disrespectful behavior.” It seems, even though the perpetrators’ goal was to mock Rick Perry and the event in general, they have only drawn ire upon themselves.