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FROM THE WIRE: E-mail demands U. Missouri sorority sisters lie for blood drive

(U-WIRE) COLUMBIA, Mo. – After a member of the Gamma Phi Beta sorority at the University of Missouri sent an e-mail demanding members to lie about their health history for the Greek Week blood drive Wednesday and Thursday, Greek Life coordinators discussed changing future drives and planned to place sanctions on involved chapters.

Greek Week spokeswoman Lauren Tischler said Greek Life coordinators and administrators will form a task force this summer to plan ways to improve blood donation education.

She said greek coordinators will place sanctions on the chapters involved that will affect the results of their participation in this year’s blood drive.

She said she thinks greek students have lost the true meaning of blood donation because they focus too much on the competition.

The e-mail, sent by sophomore Christie Key, emphasized the importance of chapter participation for the sake of winning the Greek Week competition.

The e-mail, sent by sophomore Christie Key, emphasized the importance of chapter participation for the sake of winning the Greek Week competition. “I don’t care if you got a tattoo last week — LIE,” the e-mail stated.

“I don’t care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE … Even if you are going to use the ‘Do Not Use My Blood’ sticker, GIVE ANYWAY.”

“I don’t care if you got a tattoo last week — LIE,” the e-mail stated. “I don’t care if you have a cold. Suck it up. We all do. LIE … Even if you are going to use the ‘Do Not Use My Blood’ sticker, GIVE ANYWAY.”

A news release issued Monday from Gamma Phi Beta’s international headquarters apologized for the e-mail, which it said Key sent without the approval of chapter leadership.

“Gamma Phi Beta does not condone misleading health officials or pressuring sisters into donating blood,” according to the news release.

Gamma Phi Beta President Shannon Wisniewski said Key had not attended chapter meetings that discussed donation safety. She said as soon as Key sent the e-mail, she sent a follow-up e-mail rectifying the first. Wisniewski said Gamma Phi Beta will make a financial contribution to the American Red Cross and conduct a meeting for its members to emphasize the importance of donation.

Tischler said sending the e-mail was an unethical practice that goes against the greek community’s values.

“It’s an e-mail listserv gone awry,” Tischler said. “It was a message that was disseminated through a group, but it was individuals’ decisions to deceive the Red Cross and not follow the rules.”

American Red Cross spokesman Jim Williams said the donated blood undergoes testing at a national lab to guarantee its safety.

“Even if someone was a little dishonest on their health history, the blood will not be affected,” Williams said. “That is our mission; to make sure there are adequate units of blood.”

He said such situations can occur at any blood drive, not just during universities’ Greek Weeks, which promote healthy competition among chapters.

“College-age students are typically in good health anyway,” Williams said. “It is kind of being blown out of proportion.”

He said the American Red Cross appreciates the donations from greek and non-greek students, as well as community members. Williams said each unit of blood can potentially save three lives. With more than 3,400 units donated, he said the blood drive was worth it.

“We are in this for a life-saving mission, not a competition,” Williams said. “If we save just one life, it is worth it, even if (donors) are dishonest.”

When she heard a sorority prompted its members to lie in their health histories, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said she thought students were smarter than that.

“I am sure there are students who looked at that e-mail and said, ‘Wow, that’s not why we’re donating,'” Scroggs said. “I am sure they were disappointed with it.”

April 20, 2004

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.