News

Executive Privilege

I?d like to talk about a tragedy that occurred three weeks ago at the University of Colorado. Gordon Bailey, one of 27 pledges at Chi Psi fraternity, died from alcohol poisoning. While a handful of college students die from alcohol poisoning each year, this situation was particularly devastating.
Bailey, 18, had just completed his fraternity initiation. The pledges had been driven blindfolded to a nearby forest, ordered to drink large amounts of cheap whiskey and wine, and then abandoned. The pledges were then picked up and driven to the fraternity house to celebrate.
Bailey soon passed out from the alcohol he had drunk during initiation. Because his shoes were on, Chi Psi tradition dictated that the brothers write on his body with felt-tip markers. The slurs that covered his body have been described as misogynist, racist, and above all, vulgar.
Phrases included ?It sucks to be you,? ?F? me,? and ?Penis ankle,? the last drawn on his ankle and accompanied by anatomical portrayals of genitalia. Furthermore, the words ?B?? and ?N?? were both written on his body. As these words were written, Bailey died.
In the morning, at 9 am, those at the party began to notice that Bailey was not breathing. Before calling an ambulance, they attempted to erase the markings from his face. When an ambulance was finally called, Bailey was pronounced dead. His blood-alcohol content was 0.328 percent.
If you think something like this couldn?t happen here, you?re wrong: It did. On December 11, 1994, the now-defunct Pi Lambda Phi fraternity threw a Christmas party in their house on campus. Justin Chambers, a sophomore materials and science engineering student, was a brother of the house and attended the party. Employing a ?Secret Santa? system, an older brother gave Chambers a handle of Jack Daniels as a gift. Chambers drank the whole thing, passed out in the fraternity house, and died. His blood alcohol content was recorded at 0.54 percent. Nobody attempted to revive Chambers, or noticed anything odd about the fact that he had passed out during the party. Instead of calling an ambulance and saving his life, his brothers looked the other way.
There are two lessons here and I hope every student pays attention. Firstly, you have to look after your friends. Bailey and Chambers would still be alive if anyone had called the police when they first passed out. If you are ever in a situation in which a friend loses consciousness, take them to the hospital. There is no justification for doing anything else. Students have to look out for each other.
Secondly, there was no justice in either case. When Chambers died, no CMU students were suspended or disciplined beyond an alcohol citation. Those brothers of Pi Lambda over 21 were given state citations of serving alcohol to a minor, a misdemeanor. They were later acquitted.
Quite simply, just as the brothers of these fraternities looked the other way as one of their friends died, so too does the law look the other way. Many of the brothers of Chi Psi are not cooperating with the police and it should be no surprise that none have been arrested. Just as CMU did 10 years ago, Colorado is refusing to seriously discipline any individuals.
It?s one thing to have a student drink too much; we all make mistakes. Yet what happened at Chi Psi is a disgrace to all students everywhere. May we, at CMU, never accept this sort of behavior from each other again. We deserve better.