Education

Cal Poly awards degree to Carson Starkey, more than a decade after his hazing death

Carson Starkey’s parents talk about the loss of their son and their efforts to save lives

Cal Poly student Carson Starkey died in 2008 as a result of alcohol poisoning from a fraternity hazing ritual. Now, his parents are living in San Luis Obispo and leading a cause to raise awareness and save lives on college campuses.
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Cal Poly student Carson Starkey died in 2008 as a result of alcohol poisoning from a fraternity hazing ritual. Now, his parents are living in San Luis Obispo and leading a cause to raise awareness and save lives on college campuses.

Cal Poly awarded a degree Saturday to Carson Starkey, who died of alcohol poisoning more than a decade ago when he was a freshman at the university.

Starkey’s family accepted his degree, a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering, on his behalf, according to a Twitter post from With Us — The National Network for Peer Accountability, the Cal Poly-based organization started by Starkey’s parents.

In the 10 years since Starkey’s death after a Sigma Alpha Epsilon party, his parents, Scott and Julia Starkey, have dedicated their lives to trying to save others.

The Starkeys moved to San Luis Obispo following the tragedy and established a nonprofit, Aware Awake Alive, that aims to create awareness about alcohol poisoning and encourages bystanders to step in.

They have also advocated for medical amnesty laws that grant immunity to minors who seek medical help in emergency situations involving drug and alcohol violations. Without those laws, the couple told The Tribune in November, young people may fear legal consequences and hesitate to get help in a life-threatening situation.

Starkey’s parents also started With Us in February 2018. The organization aims to prevent sexual assault, alcohol poisoning and drug abuse, along with other issues affecting college students.

Tribune reporter Nick Wilson contributed to this story.

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Gabby Ferreira is a breaking news and general assignment reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. A native of Houston, Texas, she was a reporter in Tucson, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Palm Springs, California, before moving to San Luis Obispo County in 2016.
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