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If You Want to Win an Election, You've Got to Show Up First

One of the downsides to getting older is that your contemporaries die off with increasing frequency (unless you’re one of the earlier ones out yourself!)  You start spending more time in the obituaries (if you’re quick enough to catch them on the net.)  It’s a sorry and morbid practice, but it’s part of life while waiting for eternity.

It was in this vein that I noticed the passing of someone who wasn’t quite a Texas A&M classmate but I counted as a friend: Roy F. Moore, a Houston mechanical engineer who worked for an oil company, as do many Aggies.  (If we don’t get this BP spill fixed, Ags, we’ll have quite a muster on the deck of whatever barge is on site!)  His passing last December brings to mind one of the strangest incidents I ever experienced in my academic career.

Roy and I were in the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers together, shared some classes and went on some field trips together.  There are several types of engineers out there (mechanical, civil, electrical, nuclear, etc.) and each has its own organisation, along with groups such as the Society of Women Engineers.  At A&M, all of these were represented on the Student Engineers Council, an umbrella organisation which put together some activities of interest.  Each club’s president was ex officio, and each could elect a senior and junior representative.  Roy was our club president.

The leading candidate for the junior representative was someone who was headed to become the undisputed Big Man On Campus: Robert Harvey.  Before he received his diploma he was both Student Body President and Commander of the Corps of Cadets (A&M has a long military tradition and a very large ROTC program.)  He’s “back in the saddle” as he’s on the board of directors of the Association of Former Students, A&M’s alumni organisation.  And I liked him, he’s a very nice guy.  But, when the chapter gathered to vote, Bob wasn’t there.  Texas A&M has the largest physical campus in the country, and when you’re BMOC, you’ve got a lot of ground to cover.

Evidently Roy was piqued at this state of affairs.  I think he asked me first if I’d be willing to serve, which I was.  When the junior representative vote came, my name and Bob’s were placed in nomination.  From the results the chapter agreed with Roy, because I actually won this election, much to my shock.  Losing this may not have shortened Bob’s resumé much, but it was the one and only election to a student group position I won the whole time I was at Texas A&M.

It’s been a long time since this vote took place, but the lesson is clear: no matter who you are or what your name recognition is, if you want to win an election, you’ve got to show up first!


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