Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bad news on repeat/How to piss off a rape survivor

People like to quote Einstein a lot. Among the favorite Einstein quotes is the one defining insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. Three students have died of drug overdose at Southern Methodist University in the last five months.

Here are the problems:

On Dec. 2, Jacob Stiles, a 20-year-old sophomore from Naperville, Ill., was found in his room at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house on campus. He overdosed on a mixture of cocaine, alcohol and the synthetic opiate fentanyl.

On May 2, SMU freshman Jordan Crist, 19, also from Illinois, was found unconscious in an SMU dorm room and later died at a local hospital. His death was ruled alcohol poisoning

The Texas Rangers announced Monday that Ms. Bosch died from an accidental overdose of cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone, an addictive pain pill and respiratory depressant... Police believe Ms. Bosch was last with James McDaniel, 46, who was paroled in 2001 after serving 22 years for a Dallas murder. He is identified in police affidavits as a drug dealer who targets SMU students and supplied Ms. Bosch with drugs. Mr. McDaniel has also been charged in a 2005 sexual assault case in Dallas. The victim in that case, which is unrelated to the Bosch inquiry, says Mr. McDaniel drugged and raped her. Police affidavits say Ms. Bosch was spotted at Mr. McDaniel's house apparently high on drugs the day before she was reported missing. The next day, a witness said he saw Ms. Bosch unconscious and barely breathing on Mr. McDaniel's bed.

Here are the solutions currently in place:

"Like colleges and universities across the nation, we are concerned about illegal drug use among some students, habits sometimes developed before they begin college," she [the Dean of Student Life] said. "For this reason, SMU offers numerous programs and services aimed at prevention, education, assistance and enforcement."

"Essential to our efforts, however, is the commitment by students, as young adults, to abide by laws and regulations and to make decisions in their own best interests."

"Those with drug policy violations are subject to fines, suspension and expulsion," said SMU spokeswoman Patricia LaSalle. "Those who are allowed to stay may be subject to drug testing as a condition of continuing as a student at SMU."

Here are the problems with those solutions:

Prevention, or the strong recommendation to abstain from certain drugs, is only part of harm reduction. All three of the students died of an overdose, not from moderate use. Additionally, two of the three students overdosed on multiple drugs. Education needs to address the specific effects of all types of drug use, and students need a resource center where they can safely ask questions about what they may intend to take.

It is true that we as students need to commit to making decisions in our own best interest, but with only poor information available to us, it is no surprise that many make poor decisions. Indoctrination does not count as information. Also, not all drug use in itself counts as poor decision-making. If the best argument administrators can give for not using illegal drugs is that they're illegal, then we'll merely wonder why they're illegal.

Fines, suspension, and expulsion do not prevent drug use. Obviously, they did not deter these three students from using and abusing. These punitive measures make no sense. The only result of fining a drug user is a drug user with an empty wallet. Of course, one of the fastest ways of filling an empty wallet is to sell drugs on the black market. Equally obvious is the fact that blocking access to higher education does not block a former student's access to drugs, leaving the expelled students more vulnerable to drug abuse than they were before. And then there's student drug testing, that good old invasion of privacy that pushes many students to use less detectable, but more harmful substances.

Finally, and most importantly: WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE SEX OFFENDER? Why isn't he behind bars for allegedly drugging and raping a woman? Why was Ms. Bosch drugged and lying on his bed? Didn't anybody find that shady? Would the witness have spoken of this before her death if he/she had not been afraid of getting punished, or getting Ms. Bosch punished, for using illicit drugs? Should we maybe take care of punishing sex offenders instead of harmless drug offenders? Oh, and the victim's family and friends noticed months earlier that she was becoming withdrawn. Could that have been the drugs, or possibly a combination of the drugs and her correspondence with a sex offender who happened to give her the drugs? Why was she getting drugs from a sex offender anyway? Couldn't she have just gone to the corner store, presented her ID, and... Oh, wait, no, no she couldn't have. Why not? and how is punishing students for drug offenses going to keep them safe from real criminals, i.e. murderers and sex offenders? and why couldn't anybody help her? God damnit. Why isn't anyone asking those questions?

Meaghan Bosch was a student like us and a victim, possibly in more than one way, not of drugs, but of the drug war. She died at age 21 after possibly suffering sexual assault. Last time I checked, sexual assault is not a side effect of any drug. Also, although Mr. McDaniel is innocent until proven guilty in this particular case, it's worth reminding the world that rape is always the rapist's fault. The woman, the clothes she's wearing, the drugs she's taken, and any other choices she's made are not to blame for her victimization. She does not "get raped"; the rapist rapes her.

History and her story keep repeating in spite of their best efforts to blame it all on drugs instead of bad policy and bad social conventions that really wouldn't kill anyone to change. Let's get the real perpetrators out of school communities, start treating students and the powerful drugs they're inclined to use with respect, start treating addiction as a public health issue, and stop insulting sexual abuse survivors by making headlines out of "Dead student's dad asks SMU to step up drug abuse prevention" rather than the more relevant "Rapist and murderer suspected in death of student" or "School policies fail to adequately address criminals on campus and drug use among students." Thanks.


Anonymous said...

well put. very good. keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

First of all, don't you all realize that this fellow student of mine that you so eloquently and unfortunately call “Ms. Bosch” did NOT in any way die in a way that can be described as “accidental”?? She had a drug problem! Several of her peers confronted her about her abuse of illegal substances, which instead of getting help (whether from a professional which I assume her parents could not afford or else they would have taken the necessarily steps toward reversing her addiction), she chose to “snort” an ever increasing amount of cocaine.
I’m not trying to blame her parents or her peers for meg’s death – I’m simply saying that she had a problem months, if not YEARS, before her unfortunate death. And by “problem,” I refer to all of her problems that were previously mentioned. She used and, even more so, she abused drugs regularly. Whether her family/friends wish to admit her death is due to guilt for not taking more dramatic steps (i.e., take this now deceased young woman to THERAPY) toward preventing her death and having their baby girl still here, there’s really nothing we can do about the loss. I just pray that other families raising such amazing, brilliant, beautiful children don’t behave as such delinquent adults who are unprepared for the parenting role.
As for the comment on Mr. McDaniel, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re from a similar family background that poor Ms. Bosch was raised in. Yes? If so, then you are one of the most ignorant white bigots that I have come across. A few reasons why –
• There has yet to be hard evidence that she was last seen with Mr. McDaniel, other than the fact that she was a cocaine abuser and sought him out while trying to “get her fix”;
• The “murder” which James McDaniel committed has been widely debated as a case of defending a dear friend – a close female friend of his was raped and beaten badly, and in her defense, he beat the man up who caused the physical and mental damage to her. Because he served in the military, his fists were considered ‘deadly weapons’ and therefore, after several days when the rapist James McDaniel beat up died, charges were placed on James, rather than the individual who committed the initial horrendous acts;
• There is also no evidence in the sexual assault case. The women which press these charges were, like Ms. Bosch, abusers and came out with these charges long after the crime was made up.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for writing this article, and make a comment about anonymous' comment. I appreciate the point that people are not asking enough questions. This is not a black and white situation... just because she used drugs does not mean she intentionally took oxycodone, meth, and coke? I cant wait for the investigation to end so that people can see the real story. And for the comment about Meaghan... her parents DID have her in therapy!!! So 3/4 of your comment makes no sense. If you knew her well, you'd know she was in therapy for MANY years and tried out a few different therapists because it wasnt working! Therefore you make no valid point about people getting her help... people did all they could do - obviously confronted her, and got her in therapy. Secondly, there is cold evidence showing she was last seen with McDaniel. She was at the restarant with him, he CONFESSED he ate with her, and MANY witnesses saw her at his house! What more evidence do you want?

And say it is true that McDaneil's conviction for "Murder" was in protection of a close friend who was abused... if you knew anything, you'd know he was also matched up to murdering an 8 year old boy in Illinois AND prime suspect in the murder of a Doctor in Dallas. I wont go into details... but no matter what... he was convited or murder, should have been convicted of many more, had DNA match up proving he drggued and raped a girl in 2005 AND had videos in his house raping unconscious girls!!! How much more do you want? And no there is not evidence he sexually assaulted Meaghan... maybe thats because the rape kit HAS NOT YET BEEN PROCESSED. Dont write five paragraphs insulting your "fellow student" if you dont know Sh** about what happened. You are just as naive as everyone who didnt know her.

Whitney said...

i think this post is really interesting... I am an SMU student and i am interviewing Patricia LaSalle today... i'll be blogging about it on my site if you're interested. http://smucommunicationbloggbywhit.blogspot.com/

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