CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Students on the campus of Southeast Missouri State are expressing support for university President Carlos Vargas after he issued an apology for drinking from a beer bong during a recent tailgating event at a football game in Carbondale, Illinois.
The video was shared on Twitter.
“I think the student body is proud of him,” student Marcus Lee said.
The incident prompted an apology from Vargas. He said beer bongs are associated with excessive and binge drinking, which he does not condone. Vargas went on to promise he would not do that again.
Some students believe Vargas did not need to apologize. They say he enjoys interacting with students in a way some find inspiring.
“He is very interactive with the students, whether it’s having fun with the students or educationally,” student Aja Richardson said. “I think he’s a great president.”
Vargas released a statement about the incident.
"During my attendance at a tailgate 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.
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. As president of this institution, I have the responsibility to show with words and deeds that I live by and uphold the values and principles that we work very hard to instill and strengthen in our university community, in particular, our students.
I made a poor decision, and, for my action, I apologize to the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of Southeast Missouri State University, an institution of which I am tremendously proud. Last, but not least, I apologize to the Board of Regents, and to the community at large. This serves to me as a reminder that I must always be mindful of my actions and behavior, and I can assure you this will not happen again."
The president of the school's board of regents released a statement.
"Late this afternoon, individual members of the Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents began to become aware of an incident involving Southeast President Carlos Vargas that took place prior to the football game last Saturday. Prior to the game, University President Vargas was seen in the tailgate area drinking a beer from a beer bong. While this certainly represents a lapse in judgment on his part, this one incident does not define who he is.
After this was brought to my attention, I spoke with University President Vargas who immediately accepted responsibility for his actions, and he assured me that this one incident is not reflective of a broader pattern of behavior. As an institution of higher education, we have an obligation to every member of our University community to assist them in good times and in bad; to take poor decision making and turn it into a teachable moment; and to focus on the person’s overall potential to do great things.
Since joining Southeast Missouri State University as President in 2015, Dr. Vargas has demonstrated great leadership. He has a unique relationship with students that is unmatched at most institutions; and he is respected by faculty, staff, alumni, and many others. 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. "