Solutions sought for blood drive ills

MU officials are concerned about the way Greek Week blood drives are run.
Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:55 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

MU’s Gamma Phi Beta and the two fraternities in its Greek Week pairing will lose all of the points they earned from the Greek Week blood drive, MU’s Student Life department will investigate sorority member Christie Key, and Greek Week’s rules and point system will be reworked.

All those actions are the result of several meetings held Monday after an e-mail Key sent to sorority members last week urged them to lie on predonation health forms during the blood drive.

Key will be subject to disciplinary action as outlined in the M-Book’s student conduct code, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said at a press conference Tuesday. Key has been referred to the Department of Student Life, which will investigate.

The investigation is expected to take one to two weeks and will focus on whether Key’s e-mail is punishable behavior. According to the conduct code, any action by a student that “threatens or endangers the health or safety of any person” could lead to sanctions.

Possible punishments range from a letter of warning, which would be included in Key’s file, to probation or even expulsion, Scroggs said.

“I don’t expect that she will be expelled,” Scroggs said.

Shannon Wisniewski, president of Gamma Phi Beta, said that while the sorority’s judicial process is confidential, the organization is dealing with Key’s situation internally.

In a Tuesday press release, the Gamma Phi Beta International Sorority said its officers would “supervise the internal chapter judicial process so that Gamma Phi Beta procedures regarding disciplinary action are followed.”

Wisniewski said Key has expressed remorse for her actions and has apologized to her, to the chapter, to the community and to the American Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Greek leaders also met Monday and decided to revoke all points earned in the blood drive by Greek Week teammates Gamma Phi Beta and fraternities Delta Chi and Phi Delta Theta.

Greek Life Director Janna Basler met Monday with local representatives of the Red Cross, who said that blood donated during the drive is safe and that they plan to continue working on future blood drives with MU and the Greek system.

Scroggs and Basler said they are concerned about the way future blood drives will be run and promoted.

“We’re going to take a look at the point system and see if maybe this has gotten away from the point of it all,” Scroggs said. “We are going to talk with chapter advisers to see if it has gotten to the point where it is more about winning than doing the right thing.”

Basler met with student directors of Greek Week on Monday to discuss the intense competition fostered by the week’s events.

“Decisions will be made about changing the rules that surround Greek Week,” Basler said. “In the meetings with student directors, we have discussed short- and long-term actions. In the short term, we will deal with Gamma Phi Beta. In the long term, we’re going to ask, ‘Has it gotten too competitive? What is the culture?’ ”

Wisniewski said the intense competition of Greek Week is not all bad.

“Overall, the competition is high, and it helps to motivate students,” she said. “We want to give as much as we can.”

Both Wisniewski and Scroggs speculated Tuesday that the e-mail probably persuaded no sorority members to lie about their health records during the blood drive.

“I truly believe our students are smarter than that,” Scroggs said. “I think that once they received that e-mail, they were just as incredulous as I was.”

Wisniewski said the incident has been blown out of proportion.

“I don’t think anyone took her e-mail as seriously as everyone else has, to be honest,” she said. “It was a lengthy e-mail — there were lots of positive things throughout the e-mail saying that giving blood will help save three lives.”

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