West Virginia Suspends Fraternity Activities After Serious Personal Injury
West Virginia University has suspended all fraternity and sorority activity after a freshman on campus suffered a “catastrophic medical emergency,” and had to be hospitalized. The personal injury could lead to claims of negligence or premises liability.
Nolan Burch, 18, from New York state, was found unresponsive on the floor without a pulse on November 12th, in the university’s Kappa Sigma house. Police arrived just before midnight and found an unnamed individual performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on Burch. He was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, where he remains in intensive care.
W. Va has not disclosed what occurred at the frat house that led to Burch’s severe personal injury, but activities involving on-campus frats and sororities have been suspended in response to the accident.
“This is pretty grave, and so, we’re just taking a step back … Let’s take a look at where we’re going and is this the right direction, the right reputation we want to have,” WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris said.
West Virginia University is just the latest in a series of universities and colleges cracking down on frat and sorority behavior, because everything from binge drinking to hazing rituals associated with the groups has caused serious personal injury and in some cases, even death, to students pledging to the groups.
According to Bloomberg data, more than 60 people have died after sustaining personal injuries in fraternity-related events since 2005. In 2011, Cornell University banned pledging after the binge drinking death of a 19-year-old student. Johns Hopkins banned open frat parties after a 16-year-old girl – who did not attend the university – was raped. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology banned frat gatherings of 50 or more people after a woman fell from an MIT fraternity house window during a party. After a reported assault in a frat house, Emory University suspended Greek organizations’ social activities. In September, Clemson University suspended frat activities after the drowning death of a 19-year-old student in a nearby lake.
“I think it’s really clear why schools are starting to get more aggressive here,” said Elizabeth Armstrong, associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan. “With colleges concerned about Title IX compliance and getting messages from the Department of Education that these kinds of issues related to sexual assault and harassment need to be dealt with, the climate is changing. And colleges are responding to these changes.”
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