By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee, Knoxville's Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) chapter is administratively suspended, officials said Monday.
The UT Police Department is leading an investigation connected to alcohol incidents on Saturday that involved the fraternity's Zeta chapter.
Police say an unresponsive 20-year-old UT student in critical condition was dropped off at UT Medical Center. Hospital staff said his blood alcohol content was well over .40.
Officers found several people passed out at the Pike House, including three men.
Investigators believe fraternity members were putting alcohol through rubber tubing into their rectums. This practice greatly heightens the level and speed of alcohol entering the blood stream because it bypasses filtering by the liver.
"I couldn't imagine how that would actually be enjoyable," said Sigma Phi Epsilon member Andrew Lowe. "Never heard anything like that."
"I truly believe the guys, I know them, they wouldn't have done that, so it might be a random occurrence or something," said Sigma Phi Epsilon member John Rainey.
The suspension was put into effect by UT and the International Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. It will last for 30 days, or until a decision is made about the chapter's permanent status.
The fraternity cannot operate during this time, according to a letter released Monday from the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity office.
Heather Sutton, with the Metropolitan Drug Commission, says she has never seen this type of behavior in our area before.
"It's shocking anytime you hear about people taking drinking to the extreme," said Sutton.
She says people need to realize this behavior is not safe.
"It is very dangerous," said Sutton. "We hope people will understand from this situation is when you take in alcohol in ways other than orally it bypasses your entire digestive system. It bypasses the liver. It goes directly to your blood stream."
Sutton says it can cause someone to overdose or even die.
Other fraternities hope this incident will not put a bad light on the entire Greek community at UT.
"I honestly think this is a random kind of thing, which is pretty terrible, because far as Greek life goes I know we are associated as one," said Rainey.
A press release from fraternity headquarters says in part: "The fraternity has been in contact with the chapter leaders, local alumni, and the university and has requested all members cooperate fully with the ongoing police investigation. The international fraternity in no way condones this behavior and while this is disappointing and saddening to have learned of the inexcusable actions of these students, our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families during this difficult time."
The Knoxville Police Department is assisting UTPD with the investigation.