SGA debates honorary degree

IUS Horizon

Discussions continued about an posthumous degree for a student who was killed in a car accident this summer in the Student Government Association’s meeting on Sept. 9.

Jimmy and Suzie Burrier, parents of 19-year-old Bethany Burrier, asked the SGA to give them a diploma in their daughter’s memory. Bethany Burrier died in a car accident on May 6.

The request was put in a resolution and first brought to the table by Ruben Dodge, SGA tech officer and computer science sophomore, in a meeting held on May 20. He, again, put the issue on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting.

Dodge was instantly met with resilience. Many of the officers, including Candice Boudreaux, SGA treasurer and business junior, and Justin Miller, SGA pro temp and psychology and sociology sophomore, want to find another way to remember Burrier.

“She only finished one year,” Miller said. “I don’t think we should give them a diploma. I think a better idea would be a plaque or a tree planted in her memory somewhere on campus.”

According to IU policy, a student must complete 85 percent of the credit hour requirements to be approved for a posthumous degree. Burrier had only finished her first year at IU Southeast.

“I don’t think the policy should get lowered,” Miller said. “It seems pretty fair to me. If it does get lowered at all, I don’t think it should go below 75 percent.”

Not all members think the university policy is fair. New to the SGA, Danielle Ries, business freshman, said she feels the policy requirement is too high.

“I think the reason the parents want a degree for her is so they have something in their hands to remember her accomplishments at IUS,” Ries said.

The SGA has not had any success with administration, either. The school won’t sway from university policy but sent a letter of condolence from both chancellor Sandra Patterson-Randles and Ruth Garvey-Nix, vice chancellor of Student Affairs. They also lowered the flag with a memorial sign, as is procedure to honor students who have passed away.

The Facebook page dedicated to helping pass the resolution to give the Burrier family a degree for Bethany currently has more than 1500 fans.

Fellow Borden High School graduate Paul Chepa, geology junior, knew Burrier from high school.

“She was always very nice, very athletic — she loved to do sports,” Chepa said. “If the school’s not going to give her a diploma, she should get something to commemorate how long she was able to come here before her life ended.”

As a high school student, Burrier participated in volleyball, basketball and track and field before attending IU Southeast last fall. She was working toward a degree in criminal justice and hoped to be a U.S. Marshall one day.

She began taking self-defense lessons and going on law enforcement ride-alongs to prepare herself.

On May 6, Burrier was stopped at a construction site behind four cars on Highway 60. According to investigators, 45-year-old Roger Crum Jr. was driving a Jeffersonville garbage truck at about 55 mph.

Crum said he never saw the traffic stop and never braked. The first car to be hit by the truck was Burrier’s 1994 Ford Aspire. She died on impact. Crum’s truck didn’t stop as he continued to hit the other four cars that were in front of Burrier’s car.

Three people were hospitalized for serious but non-life threatening injuries, and Crum was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Crum was also put under investigation and underwent toxicology testing to determine if he was impaired at the time of the accident.

Later, investigators discovered Crum had taken a pain-killer and muscle relaxer several hours before the accident.

Crum was later fired from his position with the City of Jeffersonville.

The resolution for a posthumous degree for Burrier didn’t pass through the other officers, but they all agreed to change the resolution to commemorate her life somewhere on campus.