On Monday, April 23, over a year after UR student Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. passed away on the morning of January 15, 2011, approximately 30 attendees gathered for the dedication of a memorial for the Rochester native on the path behind Susan B. Anthony Halls.
Bordeaux died following an incident in which fellow UR student Daren Venable stabbed him four times after Bordeaux reportedly displayed aggressive behavior toward Venable at a party at the Delta Upsilon fraternity house. On April 21, 2011, Venable was declared not guilty on a charge of murder in the second degree by Judge John L. DeMarco by arguing self-defense.
The memorial, which consists of a Yoshino cherry tree that is native to Japan and symbolizes the continent in which Bordeaux was planning to study abroad, and a bench with a plaque that reads “In memory of Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. classmate and friend/2012,” has been in the works since February 2011. It was coordinated by a committee of about 25 people, which included students, staff and faculty from various sectors of the University community.
“It been a long time coming … and we’re excited that it’s finally here and we have the remembrance,” Associate Dean of Students Anne-Marie Algier, who headed the planning committee, said.
The memorial was originally planned to be located near the stairs between Strong Auditorium and Lattimore Hall, close to Todd Union, as the spot was central on campus and had a view of Goergen Athletic Center, where Bordeaux, Jr. worked. The location was changed, however, when it became apparent that a possible future renovation to Todd Union would include a handicap ramp in the same area where the memorial would have been.
The dedication began a few words from senior Rainie Spiva, who was friends with both Bordeaux, Jr. and Venable and was highly involved in planning for the memorial and the dedication. She explained that we should celebrate Bordeaux, Jr.’s life and remember the “joyful times.” She also noted the importance of the fact that students had a large part in organizing the memorial.
UR President Joel Seligman followed Spiva with a few comments of his own.
“As long as the University stands, Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. will be part of our collective memories,” he said.
Seligman then placed the first shovelful of dirt onto the roots of the tree, after which attendees were invited to do the same.
At Spiva’s request, a brief moment of silence was held during this portion of the dedication. The dedication was followed with a reception in Friel Lounge. It appears that there was a widely positive response to the memorial from those at the dedication.
“It’s an important celebration of Jeffrey and a reminder of all that he contributed to our campus, so I’m pleased to see that there’s going to be an eternal memorial to him right here on the campus that he loved,” SA President and senior Bradley Halpern said.
Jacqueline Levine, Assistant Dean and Director of the Center for Study Abroad and Interdepartmental Programs, met Bordeaux, Jr. while he was preparing to study abroad in China, right before the Jan. 15 incident. She came up with the original idea of planting a tree and was also pleased with the memorial.
“I think the tree symbolizes a little bit of the sense of Asia that he would have brought back to the campus,” she said.
Senior Chandler Moran, who knew both Bordeaux, Jr. and Venable, said that she did not understand at first why the path behind Sue B. had been chosen as the location for the memorial, but was pleased once she saw it.
According to Dean of Students Matthew Burns, it appears that the memorial may also serve another purpose.
“I’m glad that there’s going to be something, not just to remember Jeffrey, but to remember that there are lessons to be learned from that [incident] and that [the memorial] serves as a reminder for us to keep those lessons in mind,” Burns said.
Goldin is a member of the class of 2013.