A police investigation has been launched into a possible hazing incident at the University of Virginia after a student was rushed to the hospital following an incident that involved him eating dog food, matzo balls, gefilte fish and soy sauce.
The 19-year-old first-year student, who was pledging at Zeta Psi fraternity, was taken to the Martha Jefferson Hospital emergency room March 1 after he began seizing. He was later transferred to the intensive care unit at the U.Va. Medical Center. He was hospitalized for four days.
Affidavits filed by police in a request for search warrants say the pledge was treated for an electrolyte imbalance caused by the high sodium content of the 12 to 18 ounces of soy sauce he consumed.
An investigator wrote that a Zeta Psi member said the meal is a tradition for pledges.
Police requested search warrants for the victim's medical records and any e-mail communications that could contain the e-mail addresses of the victim or one of the fraternity members referencing the organization, its traditions, the pledging process, hazing rituals and the planning process for the Feb. 28 meal.
Authorities also have requested a search warrant for the class transcripts of one of the members, a pre-med student. According to the affidavit, police were told that he may have consulted class materials about sodium overdoses before taking the victim to the hospital.
The university declined to comment specifically on the incident, citing the police investigation.
"While it has not yet been determined whether this incident was related to hazing, hazing is illegal in the state of Virginia and considered a serious criminal offense, as well as a violation of university policy," the university’s spokeswoman Carol Wood wrote in an e-mail. "If found guilty, students are subject to criminal penalties and also university judiciary processes that impose separate penalties, up to and including expulsion from the university."
University officials could bring a case before the school's judiciary committee even if the police investigation doesn't turn up evidence of a criminal violation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.