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Posted at 4:35 PM ET, 03/12/2011

Police investigate U-Va. fraternity after a pledge is hospitalized

By Jenna Johnson
Jenna Johnson

A University of Virginia first-year student was hospitalized for several days this month after chugging a bottle of soy sauce at the Zeta Psi fraternity house, according to court documents.

The 19-year-old was pledging to join the fraternity and drank the soy sauce on a dare, according to an affidavit posted online by NBC 29 in Charlottesville. Later that night, the pledge began seizing and foaming at the mouth, and a third-year student drove him to the emergency room early on the morning of March 1. The pledge was transferred to an intensive care ward and hospitalized for four days to treat an electrolyte imbalance caused by consuming large amounts of sodium, The Daily Progress newspaper reported.

Police are also investigating a strange meal Zeta Psi pledges ate that night. The Daily Progress reported that the dish -- made of dog food, matzo balls, gefilte fish and soy sauce -- is a pledges-only tradition at the fraternity.

Police and university officials are now trying to determine if Zeta Psi members engaged in hazing, which is a misdemeanor crime in Virginia and also forbidden by U-Va. policy.

A university spokeswoman said in an e-mail that officials cannot comment on active investigations. While the university has launched its own investigation of the incident, she said officials are waiting for the results of the police investigation before pressing charges through the campus judicial system. If students are found guilty of hazing, they could face expulsion.

In 2002, Zeta Psi and another U-Va. fraternity were temporarily suspended by their national chapters and charged by the Inter-Fraternity Council for "racially offensive acts" because at least three members wore "blackface" to a Halloween party, according to the Cavalier Daily student newspaper. In the end, Zeta Psi kept its national and campus recognition.

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By Jenna Johnson  | March 12, 2011; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags:  University of Virginia  
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