Following the March 22 heroin-overdose death
of Reed College
student Sam Tepper — and recent pressure from local law-enforcement officials
to crack down on illicit drug use at the elite school — Tepper's parents this week issued an open letter to the Southeast Portland campus.
The Teppers sent a letter, which is addressed to the "Reed College community," to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and Reed's administration. WW
obtained the letter today, but it was never forwarded to the Reed community.
Reed spokesman Kevin Myers says the email obtained by WW
was only a draft. Myers says the Reed student body was sent a final version today. See below for that message.
Meantime, here's the version of the email we first published:
An Open Letter to the Reed College Community
April 26, 2010
Two too many precious lives have been lost in the past two years. The “blind eye” that has been watching our children to ensure their safety, must end.
If there had been a fire in the dorm (heaven forbid), and your child died in that fire, you would look to make sure that all fire safety laws and practices had been in place. If they were not, wouldn't you hold the college responsible?
Illegal drug use is no different. We entrust our children to Reed College, not just for their physical safety from fire and intruders, but also for their emotional safety. There must be more counseling for students who feel stress. Counselors must not prescribe sleeping pills (take a chemical, it will make you feel better). Healthy lifestyles, including exercise, a regular schedule, time and stress management should be prescribed. Students who use/distribute illegal drugs should be expelled, not just suspended, to send a strong message to the student population.
We do appreciate all the consideration and help the administration has afforded us. I am sure they feel the pain, too. We thank them for their consideration and cooperation.
Those who feel the District Attorney and Department of Justice are being too harsh on the college administration need to stop and think: my child is still alive, but for how long? Let the appropriate parties eliminate the drugs on campus, and please tell the Reed College community that there must be zero tolerance for drug abuse so no more precious lives are wasted.
We would have loved to have met you all at Sam's graduation, but that will never be.
Barbara and Alan Tepper
Parents of Sam Tepper
And here's the version Myers says student body president Celia Hassan sent under the heading "Message from Barbara Tepper":
Once you cross the invisible line between experimenting with pot and alcohol into heavier drugs, you run the risk that you wont be at Renn Fayre, you won't be at graduation, you wont be alive. The support is there, you just have to make the conscious choice to use it.
-Barbara Tepper, Sam's mom