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Daily Campus Wonders if SMU Needs a Stronger Dose of the Truth

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Three weeks back we mentioned how the parents of Jacob Stiles, an SMU student found dead of an overdose at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house in December, were furious with school officials. The Stiles said then, as they do now, that the university's done nothing to find out who provided Jacob with the cocaine and fentanyl that helped kill him. And, yes, they know their son was responsible for his actions; but they also want to know why no one else has been held accountable for providing Jacob -- the first of three alcohol- and drug-related deaths involving SMU students this school year -- with the synthetic fentanyl, which is usually misidentified as heroin in toxicology reports but is significantly more powerful and delivered via patch.

Turns out that even since sending missives to the Dallas and Chicago-area media in June, hoping to humiliate SMU into some kind of a response, the Stiles haven't heard a single thing, according to yesterday's Daily Campus.

This is despite text messages on Jacob's phone that suggest he "may have been supplied the drugs from a fraternity brother," reports the paper, as well as others that discuss "snow" use at the SAE house. "At this point," reports the paper, "no fraternity member has been publicly disciplined by SMU, and the chapter has not subject to any actions by the university."

Also in the SMU student paper on Monday was an editorial in which Spanish lecturer George Henson acknowledges that the university has struggled "to defend itself against charges that the university was negligent in its responsibility to address -- or at least acknowledge -- what many consider a widespread alcohol and drug problem on campus." Henson also dismisses university president R. Gerald Turner's recently announced drug-and-alcohol-abuse task force as a problematic, conflict-of-interest-riddled solution that "may raise more questions than it answers."

The paper's editorial board is even more dismissive: "The task force, recently enlisted by President R. Gerald Turner, is a joke." Why? Well, for one reason among many, the school's publicist is on the task force, that's why. --Robert Wilonsky

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