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- Florida State has indefinitely suspended the school’s 55 fraternities and sororities following the death of a pledge. Separately, a student was charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine. Many colleges and universities are grappling with the deaths of students in which hazing or drinking is suspected to have played a role, and they’re seeking solutions to prevent abuse.
Florida State University on Monday indefinitely suspended the activities of all Greek organizations following the death of a pledge and the arrest of a fraternity member on charges of drug trafficking.
Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died on Friday after a party. Separately, Garrett John Marcy, a Phi Delta Theta brother, was charged on Monday with the sale and trafficking of cocaine.
Florida State’s president, John E. Thrasher, suspended the school’s 55 fraternities and sororities, saying there was a need for a culture change at the school.
“The message is not getting through,” Thrasher said at a news conference, The New York Times reported. “There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it.”
The suspension of all Greek organizations at Florida State continues a trend among university officials following deaths of students in which hazing or drinking is suspected to have played a role.
After a Penn State sophomore named Timothy Piazza, 19, died in February after a fraternity hazing event, university officials suspended fraternities and sororities from holding social activities during the spring semester. The Penn State Board of Trustees also passed a package of new rules designed to change Greek life.
But in October, police found a student unconscious near the Delta Tau Delta house. They said the student told them he had been drinking at the fraternity house, and the university has since suspended the fraternity.
And in September, a Louisiana State University freshman named Maxwell Gruver, 18, died after participating in a fraternity hazing game where he had to drink alcohol when he answered a question incorrectly, The New York Times reported.
LSU suspended all Greek life for one month, then reinstated the ban after some said it had been lifted too soon.
In these instances, there seems to be a familiar playbook that colleges call on to attempt to change the culture on campus: institute a suspension while Greek organizations recommit to following school policies, until similar activities soon creep back onto campuses. John Hechinger wrote about the trend in his book “True Gentlemen,” which looked into the history of American fraternities.
Hechinger noted that permanently banning Greek organizations on college campuses had worked in some instances.
“It is a simple and elegant solution that has succeeded at a handful of private campuses with the commitment and wealth to offer genuine social alternatives,” Hechinger wrote.
But at public universities like Florida State, Penn State, and LSU, a permanent ban on Greek life is much less likely.
“Public universities – governed by the First Amendment – would no doubt be barred from restricting the right to freedom of association,” Hechinger wrote.