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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida State University President John Thrasher has indefinitely suspended all Greek life activities in the wake of a student’s death.
“I want to send a serious message, I really do,” said Thrasher. “We’ve got a serious problem.”
The decision to suspend all fraternities and sororities indefinitely comes after the death of 20-year-old Andrew Coffey of Pompano Beach who was found unresponsive at about 10:25 a.m. Friday, the morning after a house party about a mile from campus. Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi fraternity pledge, was given medical treatment but died on the scene.
The action also comes after the arrest Monday in an unrelated case of Garret John Marcy, 20, who was charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine. Marcy is a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity.
Thrasher has also banned alcohol at all recognized student organization functions. FSU has more than 700 such organizations outside of the Greek community.
A press release from the university reads, in part, “FSU has received national recognition for its innovative programs designed to curb high-risk behaviors. These model programs are emulated by other universities and aggressively encourage students to report incidents they think might be hazing. The university has dozens of programs that work with Greek organizations to educate them on the values they are expected to reflect, providing tools and resources to assist student leaders and advisors in effectively managing their organizations.
But the president said this pause is needed to review and reflect on the loss of a young life.
The death came at the outset of Parents’ Weekend, a time when the university hosts thousands of families and showcases its campus.
“For this suspension to end there will need to be a new normal for Greek Life at the university,” said Thrasher. “There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it.”
In the coming weeks, the Division of Student Affairs will create and implement new measures in collaboration with students and other stakeholder groups, said Vice President for Student Affairs Amy Hecht. “To ensure the future of fraternity and sorority life, innovative practices will need to redefine our Greek community so that it positively contributes to the full well-being of students,” she said.
The timetable for lifting the suspension is up to the student community, Thrasher said.
“They must work with us and demonstrate they fully understand the serious obligation they have to exercise responsible conduct,” he said.
During the interim suspension, fraternity and sorority chapters will be prohibited from holding new member events, council or chapter meetings, chapter-organized tailgates, chapter events such as socials, philanthropy, retreats, intramurals, organized participation in Market Wednesday and organized participation in Homecoming.
They will be allowed to remain as residents in their fraternity or sorority house and will have meal service. They can attend leadership classes, judicial and conduct hearings, and risk management education workshops offered by the university.
Failure to comply with the terms of the interim suspension could result in immediate disciplinary action.
“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.”