The treatment of three students pledging at a UT fraternity has led to an investigation of alleged hazing.
Family members of three students alerted UT Jan. 14 of their sons being hospitalized for an infection. Maxine Thompson, dean of students, confirmed that three pledges in Pi Kappa Alpha contracted Staph infections and were released late last week.
Staph is short for Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that causes skin infection, but most infections are minor and can be easily treated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Staph infections can be caused by crowded living conditions, poor hygiene or coming into contact with a surface that has Staph on it.
One student was admitted to the UT Medical Center, another to Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, and the third to a hospital in Nashville.
All three students were released by last Thursday and are recovering fine, said Jim Harrison, Fraternity Affairs advisor.
Thompson said the university is currently conducting an investigation of hazing in the incident.
The Department of Environmental Health and Safety has inspected the house to identify any potential health hazards.
Brian Ranger, a biosafety officer at UT, also examined the cleanliness of the house.
“There were obvious sanitation problems, but the house was very typical of any frat house,” said Ranger.
The fraternity house has a contract with Jani-King Services to come once a week to keep the house hygienic. And to improve the current situation, Jani-King was brought in an extra day to sanitize the Pike house.
“They use this cleaning service once a week and the guys are responsible for general upkeep. So the house felt comfortable bringing in Jani-King,” Harrison said.
The other fraternity brothers were not sent to be checked out by the Student Health Service.
“I was told that you could even get a Staph infection from putting one’s elbow up on a table,” said Harrison.
Harrison said UT takes allegations of hazing very seriously, but declined further comment.
Infections prompt investigation
Published: Wed Jan 23, 2008