Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Letter

This is something I wrote on September 20, 2010, while sitting in class after reading the newspaper. Joe Dado was a student at Penn State who died last year on campus after a mostly alcohol-related incident. It was also mostly an accident. Mike Simpson was a resident in my building last year and a dear friend of mine who died this summer in a car crash. I don't think it was alcohol related, but it was definitely an accident. It was also not on campus. Hence the discrepancy in media attention the two events got from the campus newspaper (at least I've been telling myself that's the reason that one event made the front page everyday for almost two weeks and the other barely got one day). This is what I was thinking about that day.

Dear Mike,

Today is the one year anniversary of Joe Dado's death; he made the front page again. The entire front page. Plus a bit on the local page inside too. I couldn't help rolling my eyes. I'm not trying to minimize his death, I'm really not, but in the past year he's made the front page like 12 times! I guess I just don't think it's...fair?

It said in the paper that when Joe Dado died, Penn State lost someone extraordinary. But you know what? When you were in that car wreck, we all lost someone extraordinary too. And all you got was a little snippet on the side on the first day of Summer classes in June.

I'm not saying that you want all that attention. Hell, I'm not saying Dado wants all this attention either. So what's the difference? Is it because his death happened here, during the school year, and you were out of town over the summer? What about the kids that were with you? I dunno, Mike, I guess it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Joe, maybe you're up there with Mike right now, the two of you standing side-by-side, looking down on us this day. Maybe not. I have to chuckle thinking about that. I wonder what that conversation would look like.

Joe, I wonder what you think about all this. Mike was a great person too. He was your age, had an accident as well. No alcohol involved either (was there?). Why do you get so much more attention?

No offense or anything.

I don't know what kind of point I'm trying to make here, if any. I'm not trying to insult anyone. But why do some bad things get so much more attention than others? This happens all over the country, every day. A comment on the media, I guess. Joe, you managed to change the way things are done around here in a big way. First year buildings are dry now because of you (another chuckle). Frats have to have lists, and bouncers! Well, bouncer...things. Grahamy's really cracking down. But more than that, you touched the lives of the people you knew with your humor and leadership. I know you did, because I read it on the front page of the paper almost every day for a couple weeks last year. But Mike, you touched so many people too. I know that you made my job fun -- and sometimes hard -- because of the person that you were. I know that you made people laugh and feel good and know that they had a great friend, because you were a great person.

So what am I getting at? I have no idea. I really don't. I was just thinking. Maybe you should have gotten more press time, Mike. Maybe Joe should have gotten less. Maybe it doesn't even matter. I just know that within the last year Penn State has lost two wonderful students; probably more than that. But we don't know; the Collegian hasn't said anything about them.

I hope you're keeping each other company up there.

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