FSU’s Thrasher lifts some restrictions on Greek life while introducing new measures

President John Thrasher announces changes to allow some Greek life, such as philanthropy and recruiting, to resume at FSU. The alcohol ban remains in place.Facebook live

Students eager to join Greek chapters at Florida State University will face much stricter guidelines under new measures announced Monday.

FSU President John Thrasher said he’s immediately lifting some restrictions he imposed last November to allow Greek organizations to begin recruiting again and to participate in philanthropic events.

“I want to praise the students who have worked with us in this process … (to) shift the campus culture in the right direction,” he said. “We know FSU is not alone in this effort to reform Greek life.”

But the alcohol ban remains for events held by Greek and the more than 700 other recognized student organizations.

“We have kept the ban on alcohol, not only for Greeks but our entire university,” Thrasher said. “I like that. I think it’s a good thing.”

Thrasher suspended all fraternities and sororities and cracked down on alcohol on campus days after the Nov. 3 death of Pi Kappa Phi pledge Andrew Coffey, who drank a bottle of bourbon during an off-campus frat party. Nine fraternity members face felony hazing charges in connection with Coffey’s alcohol-related death.

Amy Hecht, vice president for student affairs, said FSU could lift the alcohol ban before the end of the semester if administrators determined chapters are following new rules and conducting proper oversight of activities.

That includes oversight by the national chapters of Greek fraternities and sororities at FSU. At the same time, the Office for Students Affairs will devote seven full-time employees and two graduate assistants to monitor Greek activity, compared to the current three full-time employees and two graduate assistants. A Greek Advisory Council also will be created.

If the alcohol ban is lifted, chapters will be limited to four such events in the fall and six in the spring. Previously, there was no policy limiting the number of socials with alcohol.

Any incidents jeopardizing a student’s life or out of line with guidelines will immediately be addressed, Hecht warned.

“We will be vigilant. We will hold them accountable through the Student Code of Conduct. I feel very good about our process and buy-in for our plans. It was built with Florida State University in mind, to meet our needs.”

But Hecht acknowledged there are limits to what administrators can do when investigating hazing. For instance, a grand jury criticized the Pi Kappa Phi members for their code of silence during the Coffey investigation.

“We cannot force someone to give information,” said Hecht, a member of Alpha Chi Omega.

Thrasher said he believes having nine fraternity members facing felony charges has “made a resounding difference.”

“They want to change the culture, I believe,” he said.

In addition to Pi Kappa Phi being disbanded on campus, two other FSU fraternities were disciplined for hazing last semester.

Chi Phi has been suspended for two years and their recognition as a student organization revoked, according to FSU Student Affairs documents. Alpha Epsilon Pi was dismissed from campus and is prohibited from being recognized as a university organization for four years.

Thrasher reiterated that ridding FSU of hazing and alcohol will have to be supported by the Greek organizations themselves, the full campus and national leaders of Greek organizations.

“I want their involvement,” Thrasher sternly said. “The (national offices) better wake up or they will lose their chapters at great universities like Florida State.

“If it happens again, it is going to put Greek life in jeopardy.”

Other new measures:

Events with alcohol at houses will be allowed only if the chapter uses third-party vendors, provides food and has police or security approved by the FSU Police Department during the event.

A required 2.5 average GPA to join. Currently, there is no required GPA.

Each member must perform an average of 10 hours of community service.

Required orientation from FSU for all students wishing to join a fraternity or sorority.

At least one local adviser for all chapters; at least two local advisers for chapters with more than 75 members.

A scorecard will be published online including grades, fundraising, service hours

Reducing new member intake from eight weeks to six weeks.

Monthly communication with inter/national offices.

A minimum 75 percent of all chapter members must undergo training on risk management and event policies before any are held and all chapter leaders are required to complete training.

Contact senior writer Byron Dobson at bdobson@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @byrondobson.

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