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SEMO President

Southeast Missouri State University president Carlos Vargas-Aburto discusses staff reductions during a news conference in January at Academic Hall in Cape Girardeau.


Carlos Vargas-Aburto, Southeast Missouri State University president, has apologized for a Sept. 15 incident where he accepted a drink from a beer bong at a tailgate party ahead of Southeast’s football game at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

In an email sent to colleagues and students from the president’s office Friday, Vargas issued a statement detailing the incident, in which he was offered and accepted a drink of 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,” he wrote in the statement.

As president of Southeast, he continued, he has a 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.”

Vargas apologized for his action, calling it a “poor decision,” offering his apology to the students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university, the board of regents and 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.”

In the same email, board of regents president Donald LaFerla issued a statement, stating, “While this certainly represents a lapse in judgment on his part, this one incident does not define who he is.”

LaFerla’s statement continued, “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.”

In the statement LaFerla wrote, “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.”

A video of the incident was shared on the Barstool SEMO Twitter account. It is 8 seconds long, and as of Monday afternoon had been viewed 130,000 times.

The original Twitter post had garnered more than 2,000 likes and 600 retweets Monday. Some commenters said Vargas should not have apologized, and others said he had just been having a little bit of fun before a football game.

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