COLUMBIA, Mo. – Members of a sorority were urged to lie about their health to qualify as donors in a competitive blood drive at the University of Missouri-Columbia (search), a school that once set a world record for blood collection.
In an e-mail sent last Tuesday to about 170 members of Gamma Phi Beta (search), Christie Key, the chapter's blood donation coordinator, wrote: "I dont care if you got a tattoo last week LIE. I dont care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE. Recent peircings? LIE."
The sending of the e-mail was first reported Sunday by the Columbia Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Sororities and fraternities conducted the competitive blood drive last Wednesday and Thursday. It is a campus tradition that in 1999 took in 3,156 units of blood — enough to earn recognition from the Guinness Book of Records as the largest single-site, single-day blood collection.
Jim Williams, a spokesman for the American Red Cross, said the organization discourages any actions that could jeopardize the blood supply, including donations from those who are sick or recently received tattoos or piercings.
"We have emphasized from day one it is not necessary for each girl to donate, so it is a waste," Williams said Monday.
About 3,300 units of blood were collected at the Missouri event.
In her e-mail, Key wrote: "We're not messing around. Punishment for not giving blood is going to be quite severe."
Chris Linder, a law student who serves as the Gamma Phi Beta chapter's adviser, said the e-mail was "completely inappropriate and a huge mistake."
Key declined to comment Monday and referred questions to Gamma Phi Beta's chapter president, who did not immediately return a call.
Cathy Scroggs, a campus vice chancellor, said the university had begun an investigation.
"I would characterize it at this time as one student that is overzealous," Scroggs said. "But we have heard that people have felt pressured to donate blood in the past, and this certainly has caused us to want to take a look at the whole process."