Carlos Vargas, the president of Southeast Missouri State University, has apologized for taking a swig from a beer bong at a tailgate party before the Sept. 15 football game against Southern Illinois University.
A video of the incident was shared on the Barstool SEMO Twitter account.
“I made a poor decision,” Vargas wrote in an apology dated Saturday and emailed to members of the SEMO community. His statement - and one from the school’s Board of Regents president - was published by KFVS in Cape Girardeau, where the school is located.
“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.
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“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.”
In the video, Vargas is seen kneeling on one knee while someone off-camera holds the long funnel while he takes a drink. People are heard cheering him on and three women film Vargas on their cell phones.
“Dr. V you rock! That’s my university!” one guy yells out.
It’s all over in less than 10 seconds.
The Barstool clip got more than 2,300 likes and was retweeted nearly 600 times.
In his apology, Vargas wrote that the incident was 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 called it a “teachable moment.”
Donald G. LaFerla wrote that he spoke to Vargas, “who immediately accepted responsibility for his actions” and “assured me that this one incident is not reflective of a broader pattern of behavior.”
“While this certainly represents a lapse in judgment on his part, this one incident does not define who he is,” LaFerla wrote.
He praised Vargas, who became the university president in 2015, writing about his “great leadership” and lauding his “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.”
LaFerla wrote that SEMO, “as an institution of higher education,” has 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.”
Criticism of what Vargas did was not evident on social media, where most of the people who commented on the video didn’t have a problem with it.
“So apparently Dr Vargas is taking some backlash for drinking a beer at the tailgate party. So what it was from a skull beer bong,” wrote one Twitter user. “Our president is cooler than your president!”
Others did not like that he had apologized.
“No need to apologize if you haven’t done anything wrong, I #standwithvargas,” Barstool SEMO tweeted.
“The most shocking thing about Dr. Vargas drinking from a beer bong is the email apologizing for it,” wrote one Twitter user. “It seriously read like something out of the Prohibition Era. Pre-gaming is what we do best and I wanna see Dr. Vargas lead by example!”
“Don’t even go to semo, but that email he had to send out apologizing for his behavior is bULLS***,” tweeted another guy. “Fun is outlawed in America. Change my mind.”
SEMO beat SIU 48-44 that day.