TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University's president partially lifted his suspension of all fraternity and sorority activities Monday to allow for philanthropy and recruitment, university officials said.
President John Thrasher decided to suspend all Greek activities Nov. 6, three days after fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey died at an off-campus initiation party. Two other fraternity members also had been arrested on unrelated drug trafficking charges.
“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 an alcohol ban, put in place at the same time last year, will remain in effect for all 700 student organizations on campus, Thrasher said.
► Jan. 18: Two more Florida State frats banned from campus for alcohol, hazing
► Jan. 16: Nine face hazing charges in death of Florida State pledge
► Dec. 20: Grand jury finds criminal evidence in Florida State fraternity death
“We have kept the ban on alcohol, not only for Greeks but our entire university,” he said. “I like that. I think it’s a good thing.”
Coffey, who drank a bottle of bourbon, had a blood alcohol level of 0.447 at the time of his autopsy, the state['s medical examiner previously had said.
Nine members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity were charged with felony hazing and are awaiting trial. All nine have entered not guilty pleas.
Pi Kappa Phi’s national office closed its Florida State University chapter, and two other FSU fraternities were disciplined during the fall semester for hazing.
Amy Hecht, vice president for student affairs, said the university could lift its alcohol ban before the end of the semester if administrators determine chapters are following new rules and conducting proper oversight of activities.
That includes oversight from the Greek organizations' national chapters. The Office for Students Affairs also 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, she said.
Fraternities and sororities on the campus of more than 30,000 students also have agreed to these new requirements among several others:
• Shortening the initiation period for pledges to six weeks from eight.
• Limiting social events with alcohol to four in the fall and six in the spring when the alcohol ban is lifted.
• Requiring third-party vendors and approved security for such events, which must include food.
• A 2.5 minimum grade-point average for each chapter. Previously, each chapter had its own standards.
• A minimum of 10 hours of documented service projects per semester per member.
• Orientation for prospective members so they will understand the academic and service expectations.
• Training for members in hazing prevention and leadership.
Fraternities and sororities at Florida State had more than 7,000 members in fall 2017, about 23% of all undergraduates, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
One sorority would not have met the new GPA standards this past fall, according to a report that the office has made available for the fall and spring semesters at least since 2010. Four sororities would not have met the new standards in spring 2017.
Of the 21 fraternities on campus, the lowest average grade-point average this past fall was 2.72 on a five-point scale, 2.82 in spring 2017.
“We will be vigilant. We will hold them accountable through the Student Code of Conduct," Hecht said. "I feel very good about our process and buy-in for our plans."
But Hecht acknowledged limits to what administrators can do when investigating hazing. 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, an alumna 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.