Florida State University President John Thrasher announced Monday he’s indefinitly suspending all fraternities and sororities at FSU, effective immediately. This follows a slew of appalling incidents within the school’s Greek community, most notably the death of Pi Kappa Phi fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey who was found unresponsive after attending a party.
According to the release, published on FSU’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life website, chapters will not be allowed to hold new member events, council or chapter meetings, chapter-organized tailgates, chapter events such as socials, philanthropies, retreats, intramurals or participate in FSU’s upcoming Homecoming during the suspension. ABC news reported Thrasher also banned alcohol at all student organization events during the suspension.
As expected, the suspension generated mixed reactions from FSU students, college students across the country and general observers. Some may be enraged the way of life they’ve grown accustomed to is being threatened and think the punishment is too extreme. Others may feel something like this should have been done long ago in order to prevent horrific incidents like Coffey’s death.
We feel President Thrasher and FSU should be commended for taking a drastic step in eradicating dangerous behavior in the Greek community. In fact, we wouldn’t consider it too drastic for UF to make a similar move.
It seems as though every few weeks we hear another news story about a despicable hazing allegation or we find ourselves consoling a friend after they share personal accounts of how their chapter has wronged them. For a few days after news like this breaks, people are appalled. They denounce harmful aspects of Greek life and a weak sanction may be put on specific chapters.
But nothing really sticks.
Sanctions are lifted, media attention moves on and things go back to exactly how they were before. We rarely give Greek organizations the supervision needed, and if we continue to neglect punishment, nothing is going to change.
We recognize UF has attempted to reprimand the Greek community in the past. Individual chapters have been punished for transgression, and occasionally sent off campus. But chapter-specific reprimands typically remain under wraps, and banned chapters just return after a few years.
We agree, it isn’t fair that chapters in FSU’s Greek community who have a stellar record of acting respectably are being punished just as much as those who have committed extreme hazing. We also understand many Greek chapters provide a loving and supportive environment that enriches the lives of their members. This isn’t a call for an attack on the Greek community. This is a call to action.
We believe Greek life on college campuses has the potential to provide something unique and important. Students can form relationships that last a lifetime, and they can succeed and grow into the best versions of themselves when they are lifted up by the support system their chapters provide. We believe Greek life can be great. But right now, it’s not.
For once, we should be looking to FSU as an example to follow. We need a wake-up call for the Greek community at UF. Serious punishments against hazing and risky behavior are necessary to break the cycle they exist within. It’s time we get serious about solving the problems that exist within the Greek community so that chapters can focus on the good they have the potential to provide.