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In honor of Carson Starkey: Student memorialized at Cal Poly ceremony

jmellom@thetribunenews.com

Two years after their son’s death from hazing-related alcohol poisoning, Carson Starkey’s parents want to make sure young people and those around them take precautions to prevent a similar tragedy.

Scott and Julia Starkey returned to Cal Poly on Wednesday from their home in Austin, Texas, for a dedication of a bicycle rack on campus in their son’s name.

They also announced their commitment to an ongoing annual scholarship they’re providing to two Cal Poly architecture students.

The Starkeys will contribute $5,000 each to two architecture students in memory of Carson, who was studying architecture at Cal Poly. He died Dec. 2, 2008, at age 18 after his first quarter, while pledging with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

“We’d like to thank Cal Poly for this celebration in honor and memory of Carson,” said Julia Starkey, his mother. “We now have so many friends from San Luis Obispo who are like an extended family to us.”

The Starkeys’ efforts also have included work toward legislation in Texas that would grant legal immunity to those who report an incident of alcohol poisoning.

Some of the members of the SAE fraternity had started to take Carson to the hospital on the night he died, but they decided to take him back home to sleep it off. Carson never woke up.

Several leaders with Cal Poly, the San Luis Obispo Police Department, the county District Attorney’s Office and San Luis Obispo City Council attended the dedication organized by Stephan Lamb, Cal Poly’s associate director of student life and leadership.

Lamb has worked closely with the Starkeys on initiatives to prevent alcohol poisoning and hazing on campus — including information provided to new students in the Week of Welcome.

The Starkeys also have worked with Cal Poly to create a new hazing hotline, and the university’s website now includes Greek organizations’ disciplinary histories.

“The impact of Carson’s death has had a profound impact on this campus and community,” Lamb said. “He’s someone I’ve thought about every day for the past two years.”

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong said he vows to continue to uphold a zero-tolerance policy against hazing that former Cal Poly President Warren Baker said would be strictly enforced.

“It has been amazing for me to learn about how many people have stepped up and gone beyond the call of duty to help (the Starkeys) grieve,” Armstrong said. “Hazing has to stop.”

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