The pledge of nonviolence coincides with the one month anniversary of the tragic death of UR junior Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. Shermaine Singh - Staff Photographer

“Making peace must start within me and my campus community.  At  the University of Rochester, on this day, I, Jerome Nathaniel, [class of] 2011, commit myself, as best I can, to become a nonviolent and peaceable person.”
Looking around the Robert B. Goergen Field House on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 15, one could sense an overwhelming feeling of unity and sincerity as several UR students and community members all took the pledge of nonviolence.
“To respect myself, to affirm others and to avoid uncaring criticism, hateful words, physical attacks and self-destructive behavior,” we all said in unison.
When the circle dispersed, we all walked up the stairs from the field house and received our “I took the pledge” pins and a witness signed pledge sheet.
The pledge, put together by Courtney Davis of the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and senior Dominique Collier, marks the one month anniversary of UR  student  Jeffrey Bordeaux,  Jr.’s murder.  Those who frequent the Goergen  Athletic  Center were likely to have seen Bordeaux around the gym, as he used to work there for 20 hours a week.
The pledge charges participants to respect themselves and others, communicate better, listen, forgive, respect nature, play creatively and to be courageous. So far, 75 people have taken the pledge, including Jeffrey Bordeaux, Sr., and the number continues to grow.
Gandhi Institute of Nonviolence staff member Davis first came across the pledge during the fall semester. Davis says that she kept the pledge for safe keeping and thought about different ways to effectively present it to the campus community.
After the tragic events of Saturday,  Jan. 15, on the same day as Dr. King’s birthday, Davis saw that the time was ripe to present the pledge to the University.
Although Davis spoke with several highly supportive organizations about presenting the pledge, including Delta Upsilon, she credits Collier’s and junior Christopher Norwood’s  enthusiasm for administering the pledge as the key component of its successful launch.
“I am very proud of their initiative and think they are well on their way to becoming nonviolent practitioners,” Davis said. “And this, in part, is the point of a Season for Nonviolence as well as the pledge, to teach people that everyone can move the world forward toward becoming more peaceful and just. It begins within ourselves.”
But Davis stressed that the pledge is more than just a paper with seven ideal moral principles printed on it — it is something of value that people  should periodically check on to reflect and assess their own conduct.
In addition to the principles, the pledge also calls for participants to join a group already working for peace or form a coalition with other groups and to participate in a community service project with family, friends  and neighbors, among several other proactive exhortations. Collier, a cousin of the late Bordeaux, hopes for the pledge to leave a sustainable impact on the student body.
“With this event we hope to spark a change in the way we interact with one another,” Collier said. “There are peaceful routes to resolving issues and [we] as a community must learn this because, as a student body, when one of us is hurt, we are all hurt.”
Collier says that there will be several events lined up in the near future in honor of her cousin.
For those who did not have the opportunity to take the pledge on Tuesday, Davis and Collier have been tabling on the first and second floor of the Commons from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the past three days and will continue to do so through tomorrow afternoon at Hirst Lounge.
The Pledge of Nonviolence is one of a myriad of special programs and events that the Gandhi Institute has lined up for a Season for Nonviolence. The Season for Nonviolence, which was first launched by the United Nations in 1998 as a time to seek peace, reflection and social welfare, is celebrated in 400 communities across the globe from Jan. 30 to April 4 — the dates of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death respectively. Future events include a keynote address by Voices for Creative Nonviolence coordinator Kathy Kelly on Feb. 27.
If students desire to take the pledge, the Institute has made it easily accessible at www.gandhiinstitute.org.
Nathaniel is a member of
the class of 2011.



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