For those of you reading my column in this morning’s paper, it might seem oddly short. I didn’t get lazy and simply choose to not use my allotted number of words; the Tribune editors refused to publish the majority of my column. While my liberal counterpart Tom Fulks can, with almost disturbing regularity, lash out at online commenters, political correctness prohibits most of what I wrote.
What the Tribune won’t publish
So, here’s what you missed. After the paragraph beginning “But you’re also in your late teens or early 20s…” insert:
You may notice that there’s been some heavy equipment and quite a bit of digging around the Poly “P.” There may still be areas blocked off up there.
Why? Because the county sheriff is still looking for the body of Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly student who went missing 20 years ago.
Smart, 19, disappeared without a trace on her way back to her Cal Poly dorm at 2 a.m. after drinking at a house party off campus. The only suspect in her disappearance is another former Cal Poly student, Paul Flores.
She was 19. She’d been drinking. It was 2 a.m.
In a perfect world, people would be perfectly safe walking around inebriated in the dark of night.
This is not a perfect world.
Don’t be stupid.
Kristaan Ivory was an MVP on Cal Poly’s football team in 2013, leading the team in rushing for 1,113 yards on 172 carries–12th most for a single season in the program’s history. He was supposed to be even better in 2014, his senior season.
On Aug. 10, 2014, Ivory, along with four others, decided that instead of asking their folks for a little extra cash to get through the summer, that it would be a better idea to rob the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity house where the fraternity’s president, Gear Thomas McMillan, was subsidizing his college experience by selling drugs.
Now they’ve all got felony convictions on their records–and no degree from Cal Poly.
Don’t be stupid.
For the record: I was aware that they wouldn’t publish the part about Kristin Smart. I was surprised this morning to find out they’d also cut the part about Kristaan Ivory. Our discussion about the Ivory part had been confined to whether or not to include the Delta Sigma Phi president in my list of stupids, since his was a garden-variety crime. I believed the Ivory part was going to stay in, minus the reference to McMillan.
For the record, Part II: The vast majority of garden-variety crime is also stupid.
I won’t print the email discussions that went back-and-forth over this article. Of all of the articles I’ve written for the Tribune, this one had by far the most back-and-forth over content. In fact, once I submit my columns, most of the time I hear nary a peep until it appears in that weekend’s paper.
Practical advice for college girls
It’s advice that I truly hope most fathers of 18-year-old college freshmen gave their daughters as they dropped them off this weekend:
- Don’t get drunk.
- If you do get drunk, stay close to friends. Female friends.
- Don’t be out walking at 2 a.m., inebriated, with a guy, even if he has told you of his plans to join the priesthood.
How do you give this advice and not mention the digging that was going on up at the Poly “P” this past week? How do you give this advice and not point to the worst case scenario that can happen? That you end up dead and they’re still searching for your body 20 years later.
And there’s plenty of other not as worst-case scenarios that can happen; rape being the most likely.
Blaming the victim?
The major concern on the part of Tribune editors was that I was blaming Kristin Smart for her own death. I see where that belief can come from. I was also willing to take the heat on that, and address it in a follow-up column in two weeks. But it quickly became clear in my email discussion with Tribune editors that any criticism of Smart is strictly forbidden.
Did Smart’s actions that night lead to her death? Yes. That much is obvious, if uncomfortable, to admit.
If Smart had stayed in her dorm hall that night and watched movies in the lounge (20 years ago, just about every dorm rented 3 movies from local video rental places and showed them on a big projection TV in the lounge, starting at 8 p.m.) would she have gone missing that night? Almost certainly not.
Was Kristin Smart asking for “it” that night 20 years ago when she walked home from that party at 2 a.m. after drinking with a guy who, today, we have reason to believe isn’t the most chivalrous, upstanding citizen? Absolutely not.
Should Smart’s actions that night led to her death? Absolutely not.
Dare to be stupid
Was Smart being stupid that night? A little. But hers was the garden-variety stupid that a vast majority of college students commit and often leads to little more than regret. (I was on the couch making out with who?!) It’s a type of stupid that leads to death maybe 1 in 100 million times.
Kristin Smart was very unlucky.
Despite my admonition not to be stupid, every single Cal Poly student is likely to do something stupid at least once in the four, five or six years they’re attending college. If stupidity always led to death, then we as a species never would’ve lasted as long as we have. Most will survive their stupidity, hence the old adage that God protects fools and drunkards. Except that He doesn’t always.
It would’ve been nice to be able to tell Cal Poly students about Kristin Smart’s death as a cautionary tale. A tale made a little bit more real because of the earth-movers and people wearing blue jackets with the letters “FBI” on the back this past week on the hill above campus last week, rather than simply a 20-year-old picture of a 19-year-old girl that occasions less notice than the pictures on the back of milk cartons.