The 19-year-old was pledging to join the fraternity and drank the soy sauce on a dare the night of Feb. 28, 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. 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, according to the Daily Progress newspaper.
Police are also investigating a 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.
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 awaiting the results of the police investigation before pressing charges through the campus judicial system. If students involved in the incident 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.