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When a Young Life Ends Tragically

Emil Photo Again Edited 61b7dabb61239

So much happened this past week.

I could talk about Jameis Winston’s crab-leg run that was so fast, it ended in his forgetting to pay the bill. It’s truly an embarrassing episode that shows how an entitlement mentality develops in coddled star athletes.

I could even talk about how this week, Winston’s school, Florida State University, is on a list of schools released by the U.S. Office of Education that is far from an honor roll.

The list includes places like Harvard.

But it’s no feather in the cap for FSU.

In an effort of transparency, the Office of Education is showing off all the schools that are under review by the Department’s Office of Civil rights for possible violations under Title IX’s tough anti-sexual violence laws.

It’s certainly no laughing matter, but isn’t it interesting how the crableg shoplifting violation got a lot swifter action from law enforcement than the sexual assault incident involving Winston. (See my previous blog post here on the New York Times investigation on the Winston case.)

And, of course, this week there’s also the swift racial justice of the NBA against Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner whose private thoughts on race were made very public. While any lifetime ban could still be challenged, Commissioner Adam Silver led the way and showed what zero tolerance on race issues looks like.

I could write about all that. But that’s all old news.

What’s new and fresh is my cousin, who was shot and killed this weekend.

Stephen Guillermo was a 26-year-old college student at San Francisco State University, scheduled to graduate in June.

Stephen was one of my special relatives who waited in the official immigration line that could take up to 20 years before being allowed to enter the U.S. legally.

In this case, the country involved was the Philippines. The wait was so long, in the time of the petition, Stephen’s father was married and had a family. Stephen was just a kid when I first met him when he arrived in San Francisco in the mid-’90s.

The life for a legal immigrant is not easy. With family help, Stephen and his siblings and cousins, were able to get into good public schools. Then, despite cutbacks in the JC and state system in California, Stephen was able to get to this point at San Francisco State.

That changed when his father, who worked in the hospitality business, died about four years ago. It forced him into the role of “older brother” to take care of the family.

He worked two jobs, managed school, took care of his younger siblings and his mom.

He was all set to graduate next month.

But after what his brother called a night of hard partying with friends, he came back to his apartment building on Saturday morning. Right building, wrong apartment.

Details are still under investigation. Only this fact is undisputed. The apartment dweller, a retired African immigrant, was armed, and Stephen was not. Stephen was dwarfed by the larger apartment dweller, yet the latter chose deadly force.

California doesn’t have an NRA-oriented version of “Stand your Ground.” It’s more based on statutes that go back to the Old West. There’s also a part of the law called the “Castle Doctrine” that is often used to justify the use of deadly force when defending one’s home.

But you have to feel your life is threatened.

As if off-campus sexual assault is not enough for an administrator to think about. How about off-campus homicide? Any administrators think about this conundrum?

Consider college towns where drinking is a big part of college life as well as locales where people love their guns, the 2nd amendment, or both.

An intoxicated person entering into the wrong home off-campus?

I bet you it happens more than you think.

But it can turn from a comic moment to a senseless tragedy when a gun is in the mix.

My family now knows this all too well.

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (  Like him at ; twitter@emilamok

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