TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State University partially lifted its suspension on fraternities and sororities on Monday, but a ban on alcohol and social functions begun after the death of a fraternity pledge remains in place.
President John Thrasher said Greek organizations are immediately allowed to hold philanthropic events and recruit members. Thrasher suspended all fraternities and sororities on Nov. 6, three days after a 20-year old fraternity pledge died at an off-campus initiation party.
“In order for there to be real change, students must be part of the solution,” Thrasher said in announcing the move. “If they prove to be responsible, it is possible they can hold social events later this semester.”
The state medical examiner had previously said the deceased pledge, Andrew Coffey, had a blood alcohol level of .447 at the time of the autopsy. Nine members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity have been charged with felony hazing and are awaiting trial. All nine have entered not guilty pleas. Pi Kappa Phi’s national office has closed the Florida State University chapter.
The partial lifting of the suspension coincided with the university issuing policy changes regarding how the 52 fraternities and sororities would be allowed to operate. Thrasher said the new policies are intended to increase oversight and help minimize risky behavior.
New policies include:
- Social events with alcohol (once allowed to resume) being limited to four during the fall semester and six in the spring.
- Police or other approved security required on Chapter properties during social events with alcohol, something never previously mandated. The chapters must also use third-party vendors for the party and provide food.
- Shortening of the initiation period from eight weeks to six weeks for fraternity and sorority pledges.
- A minimum 2.5 grade point average for organizations and an average of 10 hours of service activities per semester for each fraternity and sorority pledge. The university previously did not have a GPA requirement.
The reforms by Florida State come as more campuses have taken action against Greek organizations breaking rules. During the past year, Penn State, Louisiana State and Ohio State also have had suspensions.
Thrasher has invited more national participation to oversee campus chapters. Florida State’s chapters will be required to hold monthly updates with their national offices instead of what was previously once a semester.
“The nationals had better wake up or else they are going to lose the opportunity to have chapters at some of these universities,” Thrasher said. “We’re asking them to come on campus and see them in action and give us more feedback.”
Amy Hecht, Florida State’s Vice President of Student Affairs, said she has told everyone involved that the new policies remain a work in progress.
“We are going to continue to assess and adapt,” she said. “We want to see these culture changes are happening and they are starting to shift their behavior. These conversations can’t just end this week. Some of these changes are a big departure from past practices.”
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