The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Letters to the Editor

SMU pride takes more than Pep Rallies!

This letter is in response to the editorial and letter to the editor published on Sept. 6.

The editorial stated several incorrect facts that I would first like to clarify. The cheerleaders do begin each home football game with a parade down Bishop Boulevard. Once at Doak Walker Plaza, the cheerleaders (along with the band and the dance team) lead the crowd in a pep rally with traditional fight songs and classic yells. For those of us at each Doak Walker Plaza pep rally, it is apparent that the band, cheerleaders and dance team work in a cooperative effort to lead the crowd. They do this because of a strong loyalty and dedication to SMU. SMU has multiple organizations that exist to build and promote school spirit. The band, dance team, cheerleaders, Peruna handlers, mascots, Mustang Maniacs, the athletic department, the alumni association and last, but not least, the student body. To criticize one organization and the events they coordinate in an effort to build SMU pride does not build support for SMU.

Now, let’s get to last week’s article, which focused on why SMU is lacking pride – the cheerleaders. A few facts, SMU’s spirit organization consists of 19 cheerleaders, eight dance team members, two mascots, four Peruna handlers, one “Mic” Man and one Peruna. Thirty-four students and one horse with one purpose: to build SMU pride.

The cheerleaders are talented students that carry full academic loads. Some have part-time jobs and all devote many hours each week to prepare for SMU events. They give their time to attend and participate at many SMU athletic events throughout the school year, regardless of the weather or location. They try out to be SMU cheerleaders and perform the job with honor. Some of the cheers and chants they use at the games are new and some have been used for years at SMU. The style of cheerleading has changed over the years, but just because it is not the way it used to be does not mean it cannot contribute to SMU pride. Even the way football is played is different than the way it was played in the ’40s, but that does not mean it is wrong or ineffective. Your SMU cheerleaders are very good and have already received a top award this year for their abilities. The style of cheerleading at SMU is not and should not be the way it was in the ’40s.

However, there is no reason that SMU pride should be any different than the way it was in prior years. The SMU cheerleaders and the rest of the spirit organization are not replacements for school pride and student participation. It still takes SMU students, SMU alumni and other SMU supporters to build SMU pride. The cheerleaders are just that – leaders. That is what they were and will be doing at Doak Walker Plaza before each game, during each game and at the end of each game.

The cheers are simple and some encourage more crowd involvement than others do. Student body participation is voluntary. The cheerleaders are in a difficult position and must strike a balance in what they do to build pride and what may interfere with the team, coaches, game officials, security personnel, photographers, the band and others. It is an unfair expectation to think that the winning or losing of a game may be due to how much spirit the cheerleaders display.

The cheerleaders can provide “real in your face school spirit,” but remember, we need the SMU students there to do that. We need everyone working together for SMU to have a “stellar performance.” On behalf of the cheerleaders, I would like to thank them for the dedication and enthusiasm that they put forth each and every week. See you at the game!

Piper Stickney
Department of Recreational Sports and Spirit
Spirit Coordinator

SMU’s “War on Drugs”

I would like to say I was surprised that SMU will start subjecting its students to random drug testing, but nothing in the ill-conceived and badly executed “war on drugs” surprises me anymore. While it is debatable whether random drug testing is constitutional (the last time I checked, students were still afforded rights under that document, although evil-doers were not), what is not debatable is the fact that 20 years after Nancy Reagan declared “Just say no,” America still treats drug use and abuse as a crime rather than an illness … and therein lies the problem.

I have some experience with this topic, having been addicted to drugs. It all began during my undergraduate years. I remember the first time I smoked pot … I mean, REALLY smoked pot. I took several bong hits watching “All My Children” in the residence hall just before my Introduction to Psychology class. I distinctly remember sliding out of my chair during class and pretty much exhibiting all the other signs of someone stoned out of their mind: red eyes, slurred speech, paranoia, munchies. It’s not something I’m proud of. I soon moved from pot to ecstasy to mushrooms to acid to cocaine. Before getting help, I weighed 140 lbs, my teeth were a mess, I couldn’t eat solid food very easily and I had a persistent cough. It was not a pretty sight.

But I was lucky – I was able to get help and thankfully I don’t have to live that way anymore. Pretty quickly in my recovery I realized that I was not addicted to drugs because I had a total disregard for the law, I was somehow weak willed or because my mother wouldn’t let me have a candy bar at the grocery store one day. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol because there was something in my physical and psychological makeup that caused me to be addicted.

Addiction is a physical illness that must be treated as such for the addicted to get better. Addiction is a chronic disease that can never be cured, but can only be controlled.

I will be the first to agree that drug abuse is a problem in our society. Too many times we see people’s lives ravaged by drugs, their dreams ruined by the search for that next hit. However, I refuse to sign on to the belief that legislating and punishing our way to a drug-free America is going to work. We can declare as many wars on drugs as we like, but as long as there is a market demand for drugs, there will be people who find a way to supply that demand.

It has been over 20 years since we declared a war on drugs, and the drug problem just keeps getting worse and worse. Had this been a conventional war, the American public would have revolted against its continuation long before now. America is quick to declare “war” on problems (War on Drugs, War on Terrorism, War on Poverty, etc), but militaristic rhetoric and grown men playing at war cannot cure all of society’s problems.

Student Body President Dustin Odham was quoted saying, “It’s a good statement by the university administration demonstrating that they are committed to helping their students get back on the right track.” I hope the university will live up to Odham’s evaluation, and will not simply punish students who have drug problems, but will assist students who are addicted to drugs and alcohol get the help they need.

We may not be winning the war on drugs, but SMU and its administration can help students win their individual drug battles with less castigation and more compassion.

Stephen Whitley
Graduate Student, English

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