A West Virginia University (WVU) student has died of unknown causes after being found unconscious in a fraternity house on Wednesday night. Nolan Michael Burch, a freshman at the university, was in the intensive care unit at Ruby Memorial Hospital from Wednesday until he died on Friday. The cause of death is unclear, however there are rumors of alcohol involvement.
Burch tweeted that the night was going to be very eventful. According to police, the call they received was alcohol-related, but there is no evidence right now to say that it had anything to do with Burch’s death. When the police got to the Kappa Sigma fraternity house on the West Virginia University campus, Burch was lying unresponsive on the floor with a man performing CPR on him. On Thursday, West Virginia University suspended all Greek activities, bringing 28 fraternities and sororities to a stop.
Burch was studying business management and was the first in his high school to commit to a college. Friends and family came to be with Burch at the hospital on Friday before he died and the Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic council held a candlelight vigil on the campus on Friday night. Mark Flickinger, a freshman who shared the residence hall with Burch and attended the vigil said that they just wanted to mourn his death and show respect to the person he was. He said he spoke to Burch’s roommate and he was badly shaken up. It hits home, he said, Burch had a lot of friends and it easily could have been anyone of mine.
According to NBC, the Kappa Sigma event on Wednesday night was pledge-related. However, the chapter had been suspended since October, so the event has nothing to do with the national fraternity. According to a statement made by a university spokesperson, the Office of Student Activities has been informed that the charter for the group was revoked. The Kappa Sigma chapter was not recognized anymore as a student group at the university.
The death of the West Virginia University student is not the only reason why the university chose to suspend the activities of the Greek chapters on campus. On Nov. 6 there was another incident involving the Sigma Chi fraternity where three members were arrested and another 16 were cited for possession of alcohol as a minor after the group rioted in the streets. Sigma Chi was suspended as well pending an investigation. According to a statement made by Corey Farris, the Dean of Students, the decision to stop the Greek activities while the incidents are being investigated is for the safety and well-being of the students. Farris said that must be the “foremost priority” of the school.
Students had mixed reactions to the decision with some thinking it was too much too soon and others agreeing that this was a necessary step. Vicent Naclerio, a junior at West Virginia University, said the decision was a quick reaction to something that happened to one person. He said the incident is tragic, everyone is mourning and that he did not think it was the right move for this time. Another junior, Jake Smith, said that he thinks they are trying to send a message that needs to be sent. That it’s a “matter of life and death” and with the riot that happened before, the administration is just attempting to do what is right.
The president of the West Virginia University also released a statement announcing the death of student, Nolan Burch. He said that the amount of love and support that has been shown by Burch’s friends and the community is what would be expected from Mountaineers. He also asked that everyone keep the family and their friends in their prayers and thoughts.
By Clara Goode
Photo Credit: Brook Ward – Flickr License