Monday, December 11, 2017
Education

FSU suspends all fraternities, sororities following death of a pledge

Florida State University president John Thrasher has indefinitely suspended all fraternities and sororities following the death of a fraternity pledge and another student’s unrelated drug arrest over the weekend.

The pause was necessary to "review and reflect on the loss of a young life," the university said in a statement Monday.

"For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life at the university," Thrasher said at a news conference. "There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it."

Fraternity and sorority chapters will not be able to hold new member events, council or chapter meetings, chapter-organized tailgates, chapter events such as socials, philanthropy and intramural events, retreats, organized participation in Market Wednesday and organized participation in next week’s homecoming festivities, the university said.

Students in those chapters will be allowed to remain as residents in their fraternity or sorority houses and will have meal service. They can attend leadership classes, judicial and conduct hearings, and risk management education workshops offered by the university.

Those who do not comply with the interim suspension could be disciplined immediately, the university said. Thrasher said it is up to students to determine when the temporary ban will be lifted.

"They must work with us and demonstrate they fully understand the serious obligation they have to exercise responsible conduct," he said.

Nearly 7,600 students, comprising about 22 percent of the undergraduate enrollment, are affected. Florida State is home to 54 social chapters — 28 fraternities and 26 sororities.

The suspension followed the death of Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old pledge at Pi Kappa Phi, who was found unresponsive at 10:23 a.m. Friday after attending a party Thursday night. He was at a house along a tree-shaded lane, Buena Visa Drive, about a mile northwest of campus. It was the start of FSU’s annual Parents’ Weekend.

Coffey was from Pompano Beach.

Tallahassee Police collected beer bottles from the porch as evidence, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Investigators have interviewed more than 50 people, Police Chief Michael DeLeo said in a video posted online.

"Although there are indicators that alcohol may have been a factor in this case," he said, "we are waiting for the results of an autopsy. So no cause of death has been determined."

FSU officials also linked the Greek suspension to an arrest Monday in the unrelated case of 20-year-old Garrett John Marcy, who was charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine. Marcy is a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Thrasher took the added step of banning alcohol at all registered student organization events during the indefinite suspension. FSU has more than 700 organizations outside the Greek community, the school said.

"Like most universities, we worry about alcohol and drug abuse and other dangerous behaviors, and we are doing all we can to educate our students," Thrasher said. "But all of our student organizations — Greek organizations and the other recognized student organizations on campus — must step up. They will have to participate in the solution."

The university said its Division of Student Affairs will create and implement new measures in collaboration with students and other stakeholder groups.

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. And F. King Alexander, the president of Louisiana State University, suspended all Greek activities on Sept. 14 after an 18-year-old freshman pledge died in what has been investigated as a hazing incident at the Phi Delta Theta chapter.

LSU later allowed some Greek activities to resume. But in a letter that struck some of the same notes as Thrasher did on Monday, the university made clear in a letter that things would have to change.

"It is important to understand that there will be no return to ‘normal,’" the LSU letter said. "There will be a movement to a new understanding of how the Greek system will operate. We aren’t just thinking about changing rules; we are thinking about changing cultures."

The FSU chapter of Pi Kappa Phi has been suspended by the fraternity’s national office, which released a statement Monday saying its members have been told to cooperate fully with officers investigating Coffey’s death.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family and friends," said Pi Kappa Phi chief executive officer Mark E. Timmes. "We appreciate the partnership and support from the Division of Student Affairs during this difficult time."

Last year, the fraternity suspended its chapter at the University of South Florida in Tampa after a 16-year-old girl reported she was raped during a party at the Pi Kappa Phi house in Greek Village. A 19-year-old USF sophomore was arrested on a charge of sexual battery on a child over 12.

Information from Associated Press was used in this report. Contact Colleen Wright at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.

 
Comments
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey has learned all the tricks to get her kids out of bed and off to school every morning. But this year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every school day with a knot in her stomac...
Published: 12/08/17

University of Central Florida Greeks won’t hold social events, serve alcohol for 6 weeks this spring

ORLANDO — University of Central Florida fraternities and sororities won’t host social activities or any events with drinking for at least the first six weeks of the spring semester, up from the two-week ban on alcohol that has been in place in the pa...
Published: 12/08/17
Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Amid reports of rapes, beatings, cover-ups, grand jury to probe juvenile justice abuses

Disturbed by stories about the rape of teens by supervisory staff, a pandemic of sometimes savage force, brutal beatdowns ordered by youth care workers and policies that permit the hiring of violent offenders, Miami-Dade’s state attorney wants to kno...
Published: 12/07/17
Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Henderson: Some basic facts about Hillsborough’s teacher pay imbroglio

Hillsborough County’s public school teachers are horn-honking, voice-raising, sign-waving, foot-stomping mad, and I can’t blame them. They are paying for a problem they didn’t create. About one-third of the workforce was expecting to receive a $4,000...
Published: 12/07/17
In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

In Watershed Ambassadors Program, Pasco students learn about natural Florida

SPRING HILL — On a small wooden dock at the Cross Bar Ranch, Cynthia Brinker gingerly pokes through the trappings in her fishing net, plucking out a tiny creature to examine close up. "What the heck is this?" the Weightman Middle School studen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

Crognale named 2018 Hernando Principal of the Year

BROOKSVILLE — For just a year and a half, Steve Crognale has been the principal at the Endeavor and Discovery Academies. But now, he’s been named the Hernando School District Principal of the Year for 2018. Endeavor serves students, most of them hig...
Published: 12/06/17
Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

Hillsborough teachers keep the heat on after $92 bonus offer

TAMPA — The second Hillsborough County School Board meeting in less than a month took place Tuesday against a backdrop of honking car horns, cheering teachers and audience members moving through the room in shifts.Dressed in blue union-issued T-shirt...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

‘It’s like an insane nightmare’: Parents question private company hired to drive special needs kids to school

RIVERVIEW — As a foster parent with two sons of her own, Kayla Storey is skilled at calming first-day-of-school jitters. But this school year, Storey says she’s the one waking up every weekday with a knot in her stomach.It’s been there ever since th...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/06/17
Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Hillsborough school district names Teacher of the Year finalists

Finalists were announced Tuesday for Hillsborough County Teacher of the year and other honors.Winners will be announced at a banquet on Jan. 16.The finalists for teacher of the year are: Jennifer Jackson, seventh grade science, Stewart Middle; Alexa ...
Published: 12/05/17
High school start times: Could they be a talking point in the 2018 Pinellas election?

High school start times: Could they be a talking point in the 2018 Pinellas election?

It’s been years since the Pinellas County School Board addressed high school start times.But if the issue isn’t resolved in the next few months, it could fall to voters as they decide on who should fill four out of seven School Board seats up grabs i...
Published: 12/05/17