TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida State University indefinitely suspended its 55 fraternities and sororities Monday after the alcohol-related death of a freshman pledge and cocaine charges for another fraternity member.
University President John Thrasher didn’t say how long the suspension will last.
“This pause is needed to review and reflect on the loss of a young life and to implement serious changes,” Thrasher said. “For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life on campus. They must participate in that culture.”
Florida State is at least the third university this year to suspend Greek life because of alcohol-related tragedies. After the February hazing death of 19-year old Timothy Piazza, Penn State suspended fraternities and sororities from holding social activities during the spring semester. Louisiana State had a one-month suspension and continues to ban alcohol at Greek parties after the hazing death of 18-year old Maxwell Gruver in September.
At Florida State, Andrew Coffey, a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi, died Friday after he was found unresponsive following a party.
Police said there were indicators that alcohol may have been a factor, but authorities were waiting for the results of an autopsy before determining a cause of death. Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said they are still investigating.
On Monday, 20-year-old Garrett John Marcy, a member of Phi Delta Theta, was charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine. Marcy was arrested by Florida State University police and booked into Leon County jail, where his bail was set at $75,000.
“I just feel like for whatever reason, the message is not getting through,” Thrasher said. “Unfortunately we’ve got to take steps with our students, to make sure this never happens again.”
Students were surprised about the announcement and were still trying to get information on how this affects their organizations going forward.
“I was very surprised that they are doing something about it. I think hazing is a problem and alcohol is the basis of a lot of their events,” said Abygail Stiekman.
Freshman Lila Pullo, who was supposed to be initiated into the Delta Gamma sorority, did not agree with the decision to suspend all Greek organizations.
“For me and a lot of the people who are entering we’re all pretty upset because we are trying to get the reputation back up,” she said. “Most of the organizations getting in trouble are fraternities. If they did end Greek life the atmosphere on campus will go down a lot.”
John Armstrong, who served as president of Florida State’s Beta Theta Pi chapter in 1998, said he had mixed feelings about Monday’s announcement.
“Unfortunately, there has been a rash of instances similar to this, so I can understand the reason for the response,” Armstrong said. “I hope that it’s a short-lived response.”
Armstrong said there’s more to fraternity life than just drinking and partying.
“It might be a good idea for people to take a step back and reflect on what values we truly want to portray in the Greek system,” Armstrong said.
During the suspension, the only events Greek life members can conduct are meetings with the university or their national chapter. They also can not have any organized participation in homecoming activities, which are scheduled for next week.
“It will be more tame and not as festive as it usually is because there are a lot of floats during the parade and competitions during the week,” said Rachel Humphries, who is a Florida State student.
Students will be allowed to remain as residents in their fraternity or sorority house. Thrasher also banned alcohol at all student organization events during the suspension.
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