A West Virginia University (WVU) student has died after a “catastrophic medical emergency” on Thursday led the college to place a moratorium on Greek life.
“Words cannot describe the heartache we, as a West Virginia University family, feel at the loss of one of our own — Nolan Michael Burch — who passed away today,” said WVU President E. Gordon Gee in a statement on Friday.
An officer responding to a medical emergency call arrived at the fraternity house for the Kappa Sigma Fraternity just before midnight Wednesday to find an individual performing CPR on an 18-year-old male who was “on the floor without any pulse or respiration,” according to a statement released on Thursday by the Morgantown Police Department. The victim — identified by police as Burch — was taken to a local hospital where he was in intensive care, the statement added.
“We are distraught and saddened by the news about West Virginia University student Nolan Burch,” Kappa Sigma said in a statement released Friday. “Kappa Sigma is still investigating the circumstances surrounding the event. This proves difficult, as the operations of this chapter have been suspended since mid-October, due to previous, unrelated violations of Kappa Sigma’s Code of Conduct.” The fraternity added that the group’s charter had been withdrawn and operations had been shut down on Nov. 10.
The Nov. 12 incident involving Burch, a freshman studying pre-sport management, was described in a statement released by WVU on Thursday as “a catastrophic medical emergency [that] required a 9-1-1 response to a fraternity house.” Asked if the incidents involved drugs or alcohol, WVU’s Dean of Students Cory Farris told msnbc that the hospital has not yet released any information on what was behind the incidents.
It followed a Nov. 6 disturbance by members of a different fraternity. The two recent cases led the school, located in Morgantown, West Virginia, to issue the notice that “all campus fraternities and sororities have been placed on a moratorium that suspends all chapter social and pledging activities” immediately and until further notice, according to a statement released by WVU on Thursday.
Both incidents are under investigation by both Morgantown and University Police.
Farris, who has worked at the university since 1991, told msnbc that general chapter meetings and philanthropic activities are excluded from the moratorium, pending prior approvals from the university. In his tenure as dean, which began in 2010, Farris said no similar incidents – warranting the suspension of Greek life – had occurred on campus.
West Virginial University’s Greek life website boasts that the school is “home to three Greek leadership councils, 28 chapters, and over 1,500 students.” Total enrollment for the school’s fall 2013 semester – including undergraduate, graduate and professional students – was 29,466, according to the university website.