The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Almost a year: Have we forgotten?

A chill ran down my spine as I watched the local news Monday night. The opening line: “SFASU freshman dies from an apparent case of alcohol poisoning.” A life cut short.

Undoubtedly, the students of Stephen F. Austin State University are grieving today because of another senseless tragedy, much as we SMU students grieved not so long ago.

But have we forgotten what it feels like? Has the raw emotion and gut-wrenching pain been dulled by such a short amount of time? Where is the residual sting that comes from losing three members of our university community last year to drugs and alcohol? I shudder to think that the lessons we should have learned as an entire student body have been lost so quickly.

As I watched, mesmerized, a second story flashed on the screen. A familiar logo and the words “alcohol violations” scrolled next to a female newscaster. “Record numbers,” she said.

A live shot showed a reporter on campus recounting the staggering rise in the number of alcohol-related citations and violations issued since the beginning of the semester. Greek life, they said, was the primary cause of the problem. Even the veteran newsmen and women seemed concerned at why students just didn’t seem to get it.

So, the questions remain: Have we forgotten? Were the lives of those three students so insignificant that their tragic premature departure from our campus means nothing to us now? Where are their friends and families? Are they advocates for responsible behavior? Or are they still just as unprepared for the unthinkable?

Gordie’s Story

It is September of 2004 at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and students have arrived on campus early for fraternity and sorority formal recruitment. One of those students is Lynn Gordon “Gordie” Bailey, a freshman from Dallas. Gordie is an instant hit on campus with his infectious smile and warm personality.

He takes interest in the Chi Psi fraternity, and they respond in kind. Gordie is quickly pulled into the group of his soon-to-be fraternity brothers, and he accepts his bid to become a member.

On the evening of Sept. 16, Gordie and 26 of his pledge brothers are blindfolded and driven into a national park in Colorado. Dressed in coats and ties for “bid night,” the men expect a night of fraternity ritual and celebration.

Instead, they find a cooler filled with four handles of whiskey and six bottles of wine. “No one is leaving here until these are gone,” say several active brothers who are present. Within 30 minutes, the entire contents of the cooler are consumed, with Gordie having taken far more than his share to help those who couldn’t finish.

When the group returns to the fraternity house, Gordie is heavily intoxicated and unable to stand. His new “brothers” place him on a couch to “sleep it off” at approximately 11 p.m. During the night, a few brothers find Gordie passed out face-down on the floor, and they proceed to scrawl racial slurs and other crude and demeaning words and pictures all over his body in permanent marker.

The next morning, Gordie is discovered dead, still on the floor and covered head to toe in blue Sharpie.

Shaken and visibly upset, some of the brothers ask what happened. Those who know simply slink off to their rooms to dispose of a few blue permanent markers and a cooler filled with empty bottles.

After his death, Gordie Bailey’s mother and stepfather established The Gordie Foundation in his honor. The foundation’s mission is to raise awareness about binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and hazing on college campuses nationwide. Find out more at gordie.org.

A Chance to Save Others

Gordie’s family and a handful of fraternities at CU-Boulder have joined together to ensure that similar tragedies do not befall other young, impressionable first-year students like Gordie Bailey. They remember the anguish they felt in late-summer 2004, and their pain is not over. Rather than sit idly by, they have chosen to take a stand against the forces that brought about the death of their son and pledge brother.

With all due respect to the families and friends involved with what took place at SMU last year, why have we failed to mark those incidents and pledge never to allow them to happen again? Something must be done.

My fellow students: We do have a chance yet. In collaboration with the Gordie Foundation, and already supported by countless facets of the SMU community, a variety of programs are in the works that will hopefully make an enormous impact on our campus. The goal is to create opportunities for students to have a good time while being responsible.

If you are interested in being a part of the growing effort on campus, please contact me. I would love to talk with you about how you can take part in creating a safer, better-educated student body.

As I have said before, it is time to make a change NOW. There is no worthy excuse at this point to not get involved and work for the betterment of our campus and for the health of our students.

As we approach our Homecoming festivities, we need to show our alumni, parents, relatives and friends that we have not forgotten the pain of losing a friend, brother, sister or classmate. The pain is real and it should still be felt in the red and blue heart of every Mustang. For the sake of those affected by what happened here almost a year ago, let us all stand together.

About the writer:

Brooks Powell is a senior political science major. He can be reached at [email protected].

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