Florida State University President John Thrasher on Monday partially lifted the suspension of activities by fraternities and sororities on his campus while outlining a series of major changes prompted by the death of a student.
Thrasher suspended the fraternities and sororities following the Nov. 3 death of Andrew Coffey, 20, who died from alcohol poisoning after an off-campus fraternity initiation. Thrasher said the tragedy, which also resulted in criminal charges for nine fraternity members, has made “a resounding difference” in how students view some of the questionable activities associated with the Greek organizations.
“I regret that (death) more than anything but I will tell you I think it has made a difference,” Thrasher said Monday at a press conference announcing the new policies. “Hazing and alcohol abuse in these contexts that created this particular incident has got to stop.”
Thrasher praised the students, fraternity and sorority leaders and others for working with the administration to come up with a series of policy changes, including limits on alcohol use and more supervision for the organizations.
“I’ve said all along that in order for there to be real change on campus, students must be part of the solution,” Thrasher said. “Our students are now beginning to fully understand the serious obligation they have to behave responsibly.”
Thrasher said the sororities and fraternities, which have about 7,000 members, will now be allowed to recruit new members and engage in philanthropic activities. But an alcohol ban will remain in place for fraternities, sororities and some 700 student organizations as the new policies are implemented.
“If they prove to be responsible in implementing these activities, we will allow the fraternities and sororities to hold social events later in the semester,” Thrasher said.
Thrasher and Amy Hecht, FSU’s vice president for student affairs, outlined a series of major changes for the fraternities and sororities, including limiting events with alcohol to four in the fall semester and six in the spring.
“They’re not meant to take away the fun and the social aspect of fraternity and sorority life, but they’re meant to ensure that our students can be successful … that they’re graduating, that they’re having positive experiences through our Greek community,” Hecht said about the new policies.
Under the new policy, any events involving alcohol, including tailgating at football games, will require the presence of a police officer or security guard.
The induction of new fraternity members will be limited to a six-week period, a 25 percent reduction from the current eight-week cap.
In a new requirement, each of the fraternity and sorority chapters will be required to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade-point average.
Sorority and fraternity members will also have to perform an average of 10 hours of community service for the fall and spring semesters, another new requirement.
All students seeking to join a fraternity or sorority will have to attend an orientation session.
There will be more training and education for sorority and fraternity members, including mandatory participation by chapter leaders in a training program that will include topics such as “hazing prevention” and “creating a culture of care.”
And there will be more supervision of the organizations, with staffing in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life increasing to seven members, along with two graduate assistants.
Fraternities and sororities with more than 75 members will be required to have at least two local advisors. Faculty and staff members will be added to student-conduct review panels.
FSU will also create a public “scorecard” — which will include information about grade point averages, community-service performance, chapter sizes, awards and highlights — for each fraternity and sorority.
“We do hope that our students will see how important it is to be safe and to hold each other accountable and ensure we are following these policies and procedures,” Hecht said.