HOUSTON - Politics can be cutthroat at times, even when you are just running for student government.
A candidate at the University of Houston-Downtown campus said he is the target of a vicious smear campaign
He is openly gay and HIV positive, but he did not expect anyone to use that against him.
On a campus where most students dress casual, Kristopher Sharp stands out. He wears suits and ties, and he wants to run for student body vice president.
He said that it doesn’t bother him at all that people know that he is gay and HIV positive. However, what does bother him are fliers with the headline, “Want AIDS? Don’t support the Isaac and Kris homosexual agenda.”
“I was shocked. I was speechless,” Sharp said.
Isaac Valdez plans to run for class president with Sharp as his running mate.
“I think this is a despicable act. I am shocked that the individuals who did this would resort to this type of smear,” Sharp said.
Even worse, the backside of the flier shows some of Sharp’s private medical records. He thought he had lost them on campus, now he thinks they were stolen.
“Honestly, when I seen all this, the first thing that went through my mind was, God, how quickly can I transfer to another university,” Sharp said.
He said he did not even know about the flier until the dean of students told him about it.
“Immediately our UHD police department launched an internal criminal investigation into the matter to try to find the person responsible,” Claire Caton, spokeswoman for UH-Downtown, said.
Somebody also scrawled on a bathroom wall, “Isaac and Kris equals AIDS.”
“It was cruel. It was hateful. It was unnecessary,” Kendra Ferrell, UH-Downtown student, said.
Other students reacted with revulsion.
“These people who did this need to be punished. Why? Because it needs to be taught to our community to be more tolerant,” Mary Angela Hernandez, UH-Downtown student, said.
“Whoever’s doing it is going to get caught soon.”
Whatever happens, Sharp still plans to run for vice-president. But of course, it’s a free country where people are allowed to say things that are ugly and unpopular especially during political campaigns.
The most pointed legal question may be this: How did the negative campaigner in this case get his hands on those private medical records?