In the frat houses across the country, Carlos Vargas might have just secured the title of “Coolest University President.”
The Southeast Missouri State University, or SEMO, president was caught chugging from a beer bong at a tailgate party earlier this month. “Barstool SEMO” captured the footage and tweeted it out with the caption “THATS MY PRESIDENT.” The video has garnered more than 157,000 views. It also received more than 2,600 likes and around 700 retweets.
THATS MY PRESIDENT pic.twitter.com/9wjvn0gnyH— Barstool SEMO (@BarstoolSemo) September 22, 2018
Vargas has released a statement, apologizing for his behavior.
“During my attendance at a tailgate party prior to the Southeast football game on September 15, I was observed being offered and accepting to drink beer from a beer bong, a device normally associated with excessive or binge drinking, which is conduct I do not condone,” Vargas wrote. “The above action projects an image that I am not proud of, is not flattering, and certainly not expected from the president of Southeast Missouri State University.”
When the Board of Regents confronted him over the incident, he fessed up to it and took full responsibility. Rather than condemning Vargas, Board President Donald LaFerla called it “a teachable moment,” and praised his “unique relationship with students that is unmatched at most institutions.”
“While this certainly represents a lapse in judgment on his part, this one incident does not define who he is,” LaFerla wrote. “As President of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents he has my support, and that of the full Board, now and in the days, weeks and months ahead.”
SEMO students have also come to his defense.
“I just think he was out having fun and when presented with the opportunity, he took it,” Caleb Robinson, a social work major told the student newspaper. “There’s worse things that he could have done.”
“He is very interactive with the students, whether it’s having fun with the students or educationally,” said SEMO student Aja Richardson. “I think he’s a great president.”
Vargas is blasting away the stereotypes of stuffy university presidents. At the games, he apparently cheers with the fans, and on campus, it sounds like he makes an effort to connect with students, unlike SEMO’s last president.
He also, apparently, doesn’t shy away from a good ol’ fashioned beer bong.
Brendan Pringle (@BrendanPringle) is writer from California. He is a National Journalism Center graduate and formerly served as a development officer for Young America's Foundation at the Reagan Ranch.