The only thing sadder than your choice of Kay Bailey Hutchison for the February cover is knowing that there are plenty of idiots in Texas who will vote for either her or Mr. Big Hair.
As an SMU alum and a DEA special agent, I read the article regarding the death of Jake Stiles with great interest [“An Isolated Incident,” February 2009]. The kid made his own mistakes, and no one else—not his parents, frat brothers, or the SMU administration—is to blame. However, there is clearly a drug problem at the school. That’s not even debatable. Forming a substance abuse task force is nice, but I would recommend that an aggressive, enforcement-oriented approach be incorporated into the university’s plan. It would not be very hard for an experienced narcotics investigator to get a college kid to give up his sources, provided the kid had the proper “motivation,” like not getting expelled or incarcerated. This would not only lead to arresting the suppliers (particularly those who are students) but also put drug users in the unpleasant position of having to “rat out” their connections. That would go a long way toward sending the message that the drug culture will no longer be tolerated at SMU.
During my senior year at SMU, the Watergate cover-up unraveled through live, televised Senate hearings. Now, more than thirty years later, I am disappointed by another cover-up. By saying Jake Stiles’s death was an “isolated incident,” a subculture of underage drinking and drug use gets swept under the rug by my alma mater. And if this was done in order to secure the new Bush Presidential Library, as the article suggests, it only compounds this tragedy, since all of George W. Bush’s presidential accomplishments could be compiled in one text message.
Your article was fascinating; however, there seems to be no valid grounds for Nate Blakeslee’s berating tangent on SMU students and their families.
The friends I have made at SMU are from all over the world—Dallas, California, Mexico, Amsterdam—and are socially, religiously, and economically diverse. Sure, I know a few “coddled” rich kids here, but aren’t they everywhere? And to suggest that SMU is where “wealthy families send . . . underachieving children” is highly offensive to the multitude of talented, intelligent students who attend the school.
Blakeslee also has the idea that “the SMU campus has . . . neatly manicured lawns on which students rarely walk, sunbathe, or throw Frisbees.” While the campus is picturesque, this doesn’t keep me from crossing the lawns every day to find the quickest route to class. But why does it matter, and how does the average student’s route to class relate to Jake Stiles’s death? Is Blakeslee trying to imply that because there are few sunbathers and some students who are well-off financially, everyone is in their rooms doing cocaine? How else does this continuous gross stereotyping of all SMU students contribute to Blakeslee’s case about the death of one student?
Southern Methodist University student
Mr. Blakeslee’s article was unfair to the many administrators, faculty, staff, and students who work tirelessly to prevent substance abuse on SMU’s campus. Mr. Blakeslee failed to include information provided to him by student affairs officials outlining SMU’s many preventive, educational, and enforcement programs related to substance abuse. As the director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, I spent time talking with Mr. Blakeslee about this topic and had hoped that he would provide more balance to his article. As we explained to him, SMU’s recent Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention resulted in more than thirty new initiatives. One of these initiatives trains students to identify substance-abuse-related problems among their friends and to intervene when there is a problem. Other initiatives make it easier for students to get medical help for themselves or others at risk because of substance abuse. With regard to enforcement, SMU and University Park now share a drug enforcement officer who serves on a task force on drug trafficking with other area enforcement agencies. We are committed to helping students make wise choices for their personal and educational well-being.
John H. Sanger
Southern Methodist University
Pride and Prejudice
Thank you, Oscar Casares, for the perfect accounting of what it means to be biracial in America today [“Indivisible Man,” February 2009]. My preteen daughter, of Mexican and German descent, looks European and has a Hispanic last name. Recently she became aware that she doesn’t represent the stereotype that, unfortunately but predictably, comes with that name. I’m having her read your article tonight in hopes that it will engender the same feelings of pride and hope it has given me. After all, folks like you and my daughter represent some of the greatest things about this country and our beloved state.
P.S. Please don’t print my name, as my daughter would be mortified to know that I wrote to a magazine about her!
A Taste of Texas
Shame on the Texanist! The poor woman in the February issue who is bereft of chili con queso in Alexandria, Virginia, doesn’t deserve his scorn; she’s simply crying out for help. My suggestion is that, through the magic of the Internet, Texas Monthly establish a Web site where expat Texans can find the tastes they long for in those far-off lands.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Mail to the Chief
Number one, did you ever consider that President Bush might not want a complimentary copy of your magazine [Editor’s Letter, “Subscription Accomplished,” February 2009]? Number two, and most important, the president is a private citizen now, and how long has it been since you had a country ass whoopin’?