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The Gordie Foundation (website) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Dallas, TX. The Foundation's mission is "to provide today's young people with the skills to navigate the dangers of alcohol, binge drinking, peer pressure and hazing." The Gordie Foundation was created in memory of 18 year-old Gordie Bailey who died on September 17, 2004 following a hazing incident involving alcohol in the Chi Psi fraternity house at the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, CO. Actress Robin Wright Penn is the Honorary Spokesperson for The Gordie Foundation.

What Happened?

On the evening of September 16, 2004, Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr. ("Gordie") and twenty-six other Chi Psi pledges dressed in coats and ties for "bid night" were taken blindfolded to the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest where they were told to consume four 1.75 liter bottles of 80-proof Ten High Bourbon Whiskey and six 1.5 liter bottles of Carlo Rossi wine around a bonfire in 30 minutes. Older active fraternity men stated to the group that “no one is leaving here until these are gone.” When the group returned to the Fraternity house, Gordie was visibly intoxicated and did not drink any more. He was placed on a couch to “sleep it off” at approximately 11:00pm. Later in the evening, while Gordie was unconscious, his brothers used permanent markers to scrawl demeaning sayings and pictures on all parts of his body. Gordie was left alone for 10 hours before he was found dead the next morning, face down on the floor.

Litigation

Following Gordie's death, his mother Leslie Lanahan brought legal action against the Alpha Psi Delta chapter of Chi Psi, located in Boulder, Colorado. Following four and a half years of negotiation, the two sides agreed to a settlement in March 2009. Among the terms, Chi Psi agreed that Gordie had indeed been hazed by brothers of the chapter on the evening of September 16, 2004. The national fraternity also agreed to use Gordie's story in all pledge education about hazing, as well as to require that all chapters, or "Alphas", recruit a live-in adult supervisor. In accordance with a request by Chi Psi, details of the financial portion of the settlement cannot be disclosed.

Who Was Gordie?

Gordie was just 18 years old when he died. One month earlier, he had enrolled as a freshman at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business. In his four weeks at the University, Gordie had been named to the club lacrosse team and had become a pledge at Chi Psi Fraternity. Gordie went to Colorado after three years at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts where he participated in athletics, music and drama. In his senior year he was co-captain of the varsity football team playing both middle linebacker and offensive guard. He also started at defense on the school’s New England championship lacrosse team.

While a senior, Gordie mentored younger students as a Proctor in an underclass dormitory. In his spare time, he and his fellow Proctors made humorous videos with their Proctees. Prior to attending Deerfield, Gordie attended St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas and The Lamplighter School, also in Dallas.

Read more about Gordie.

The GordieCheck

Alcohol-related incidents claim the lives of over 1700 students annually [1]. If someone is experiencing these symptoms, they may be suffering from an alcohol overdose and/or alcohol poisoning. The Gordie Foundation encourages you to "save a life" and "make the call" for help to prevent another senseless tragedy. "Friends Check Friends" - Never leave an intoxicated person alone to "sleep off" the effects of alcohol. The amount of alcohol it takes to pass out is dangerously close to the amount it takes to kill you [2]. Vomiting is a sign that your brain detects dangerous levels of alcohol in the bloodstream [3]. Remember: drinking is not a competition. Large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time can be deadly.

The Circle of Trust

The Circle of Trust is a peer-to-peer education program run through The Gordie Foundation that includes over 150 chapters on college and high school campuses worldwide. The primary purpose of each chapter is to promote awareness by holding two events each academic year at every participating campus. With peers promoting healthy and responsible behavior to other peers, the messages are readily received by students.

The Circle of Trust operates on a simple hub-and-spoke model with each chapter having a designated “charter member” who is the leader and primary contact for the campus. These leaders coordinate with fellow Circle of Trust members on their campuses and around the country to schedule two annual events, one in the fall and one just before Spring Break. The Gordie Foundation provides each chapter with educational materials and resources to distribute and effectively utilize in their efforts.

HAZE: the documentary

The Gordie Foundation, with director Pete Schuermann, has produced both a full-length and a shortened, content edited documentary film entitled HAZE that explores the environment on today’s college campuses that leads to alcohol related deaths like Gordie's. Highlighting many aspects Gordie’s story, the film illuminates the heavily veiled and largely misunderstood realm of college binge and competitive drinking and hazing, and the continually mounting risks associated with such behaviors. HAZE features graphic and disturbing scenes of the real-life consequences of alcohol abuse and acts of hazing perpetrated against young men and women by their peers. It is unacceptable. Psychologists, researchers, college student affairs personnel, and students themselves offer valuable insights into the environment many college students, and even high school students encounter during what are intended to be formative and enlightening years. What emerges is evidence of an unsettling trend toward recklessness and overindulgence upon which most students look with ambivalence.

HAZE has been selected to be screened at several prestigious film festivals, including its premiere at the Hamptons International Film Festival. It has also been selected to be shown in 2009 at the AFI DALLAS International Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the IndieSpirit Film Festival in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

National GORDIEday

National GORDIEday is held annually in the fall, with the second-annual event scheduled to take place on September 24, 2009 in conjunction with National Hazing Prevention Week. Events center on spreading awareness about the dangers of binge and competitive drinking, the warning signs of alcohol poisoning, and the inherent risks involved with hazing. Events include handing out awareness materials, posting flyers, screening the documentary HAZE, and hosting speakers.

References

  1. [1] Magnitude of Alcohol-Related Mortality And Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18–24: Changes from 1998 to 2001
  2. [2] Facts on Tap:Prevention and Intervention program for high school and colleges
  3. [3] NIAAA Publications
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