Sorority Apologizes for Blood Drive Controversy

A sorority blood drive coordinator who urged members lie about their health to qualify as donors in a campus competition could face discipline ranging up to expulsion, a University of Missouri-Columbia (search) official said Tuesday.

In addition, the campus chapter of Gamma Phi Beta (search) must forfeit any points it would have earned in the "Greek Week" competition for last week's blood drive, campus fraternity and sorority leaders said Tuesday.

The sorority's national office issued a statement Tuesday saying it regretted the incident "and apologizes to the community, the Red Cross and campus."

In an April 6 e-mail sent to about 170 members of Gamma Phi Beta, sophomore Christie Key, the Missouri-Columbia 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 American Red Cross (search) tells people who are sick or have recently received tattoos or piercings not to donate blood, to protect their and the blood recipients' health.

Key added: "Even if youre going to use the Do Not Use My Blood sticker, GIVE ANYWAY." Donors who have second thoughts at the donation site can discreetly attach a sticker to a health questionnaire indicating their blood shouldn't be used. Those donations are destroyed, the Red Cross said.

Key declined to comment Monday and referred questions to her sorority chapter president, who did not immediately return a call.

The national Gamma Phi Beta statement said the blood drive e-mail was sent "without the consent or approval of any chapter officer."

Sorority and fraternity members at the school will be educated about blood donation safety, said Cathy Scroggs, the university vice chancellor for student affairs. She told reporters Tuesday the university strongly discourages making students give blood.

Key's e-mail said: "We're not messing around. Punishment for not giving blood is going to be quite severe."

Rules for the blood drive stress that members and chapters may not be punished for failing to donate.

Scroggs said the university was investigating and would decide soon whether Key will be disciplined. Scroggs said the university's standards of student conduct prohibit any action "which threatens or endangers the health or safety or any person."

Punishment could range from a written reprimand in the student's file to suspension or expulsion, Scroggs said.

The statement from the national Gamma Phi Beta said no chapter members were reprimanded for not participating in the blood drive. The rules for the blood drive stress that members and chapters may not be punished for not donating.

About 3,300 units of blood were collected at the Missouri event. The Red Cross reassured the public that its blood supplies are safe, saying all donations are routinely tested for safety.

On a single day in 1999, the campus drive 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.