I remember the first time I went to the Monroe County Hall of Justice. You could feel anxiety in the air. The worry and fear that people had was palpable, as their fate sat in the hands of their peers. I was relieved that I was there not as a participant in this system, but as an observer and reporter of mechanizations inside.
The case was a difficult one. Several months prior, former UR student Daren Venable had stabbed fellow student Jeffrey Bordeaux, Jr. at a fraternity party, killng him, and that’s mostly everything anyone knew. There were reports about what happened that night, but not a complete picture. At the time the situation seemed black and white, Bordeaux, Jr. was the victim and Venable the aggressor.
However, as stories, testimonies and witnesses were presented during the weeklong trial, it was found that the portrait wasn’t at all as black and white as people had thought. It was found that Venable had acted in self-defense to aggression from Bordeaux, Jr. and both students, not just Bordeaux, Jr., were victims.
It’s been more than a year since then, and there is now a memorial dedicated to Bordeaux, Jr. which commemorates his life and death. As much as this sentiment is appropriate for what has happened, it forgets that both students’ lives were ruined by this tragedy, not just Bordeaux Jr.’s. Venable is still alive, but he will be haunted by the specter of killing his fellow classmate for the rest of his life. It is unfair to erect a memorial that will always paint him as the villain; it’s also a problem that we recognize the death of one student but not others. We have memorials for students that served and died in war, we have memorials for benefactors, but there isn’t a memorial for the others.
We all mourn for the loss of friends, relatives or coworkers. In college, fellow students also become important figures in our lives, and their absence would be traumatic.
I don’t think that the memorial in honor of Bordeaux, Jr. is a bad idea. To say that would be disrespectful of the man we have lost. I just believe there should be a memorial for all students that have been taken from us.
Such a memorial would be a focal point for students who are confused during a time of sadness when they have lost someone close to them. It also would serve as a permanent marker for families to know that their loved ones are gone, but not forgotten. It would be the greatest way for the University to show that, in life and death, their students are part of the campus community. If we are to be respectful of our fallen comrades, we should take them all into account and honor their lives. Friends and family of other deceased students like Kurt Scheele and Taylor Morgan could share a place to remember, and all of the students taken from us could forever be part of the campus.
Minahan is a member of the class of 2012.