The tragic death of a 20-year-old student at an off-campus fraternity pledge party has led the Florida State University (FSU) to indefinitely suspend all 55 fraternities and sororities. In the news release posted on the University website, FSU president John Thrasher announced that the ban was needed to “review and reflect on the loss of a young life.” He further said that the timetable for lifting the ban is completely up to the student community till the time students “work with us and demonstrate they fully understand the serious obligation they have to exercise responsible conduct.” FSU is the third in line after Penn State and Louisiana State to suspend Greek life and make sure such incidents do not happen again.
On Nov. 3, 2017, Andrew Coffey, a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi, was found unresponsive after the party. The exact cause of death has not been confirmed yet as the authorities are awaiting results of the autopsy, but the police has indicated that alcohol might be the cause. On Nov. 6, 2017, the police arrested a member of Phi Delta Theta, 20-year-old Garrett John Marcy, for sale and trafficking of cocaine.
What the ban implies
During the suspension period, alcohol will not be allowed at any event organized by students’ organization. The chapters are not allowed to hold organized events, such as socials, philanthropy, retreats, and will not have any organized participation in Homecoming activities. The suspension will also ban fraternities and sororities from holding new chapter meetings and other school activities. The only events that they are allowed to conduct during the ban are meetings with the University or their national chapter. The students are also allowed to remain as residents in their respective houses and share meals. Failure to comply with the ban could result in taking immediate disciplinary action against the person. The announcement came as a surprise to the students, most of whom did not agree with the decision to suspend all Greek organizations.
Need for a new normal for Greek life
Though the ban has been implemented, the coming weeks will see the Division of Student Affairs create and execute new measures along with fellow students and other stakeholders. According to Amy Hecht, vice-president for student affairs, innovative practices are needed to redefine the Greek community, safeguard the future of fraternities and sororities, and ensure the well-being of students. Thrasher said, “There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it.”
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