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Florida State suspends fraternities, sororities in wake of pledge’s death

All fraternities and sororities at Florida State University have been suspended indefinitely, the school’s president announced Monday.

The interim suspension was effective immediately, according to a news release on the school’s website. The decision comes after the death of a pledge and, separately, the drug-related criminal charge of a fraternity member.

“For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life at the university,” Florida State University president John Thrasher said in the release. “There must be a new culture, and our students must be full participants in creating it.”

The release notes that the decision came just days the death of Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge. The Tallahassee Democrat has reported that Coffey died Friday after an off-campus party.

The news release from the school in Tallahassee also cited the arrest of Garrett John Marcy, a 20-year-old member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Marcy has been charged with the sale and trafficking of cocaine, according to the release. He was arrested Monday, and his case is unrelated to Coffey’s death.

It is unclear how long the suspension of Greek life will last. The release notes:

The timetable for lifting the suspension is up to the student community, Thrasher said.
“They must work with us and demonstrate they fully understand the serious obligation they have to exercise responsible conduct,” he said.

In a video statement posted to Facebook, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said investigators had interviewed several people following Coffey’s death, and additional interviews were planned.

“Although there are indicators that alcohol may have been a factor in this case, we are waiting for the results of an autopsy, so no cause of death has been determined,” the chief said. The police “will continue to work with the state attorney’s office as new information becomes available to determine what charges, if any, are appropriate.”

Coffey’s death comes not long after the death of Maxwell Gruver, a Louisiana State University freshman. The 18-year-old died in September after a gathering at a school fraternity. In February, a Pennsylvania State University fraternity pledge, Timothy Piazza, died after a party for students who had accepted bids to join the chapter.

According to Florida State’s release, fraternity and sorority chapters won’t be allowed to hold events for new members during the suspension. Activities such as socials, philanthropy events and intramural sports also are prohibited.

Thrasher has also banned alcohol at all recognized student organization events while the suspension is in place.

Students who live in fraternity or sorority houses will be allowed to stay there as residents, according to the release, which notes: “Failure to comply with the terms of the interim suspension could result in immediate disciplinary action.”

“Like most universities, we worry about alcohol and drug abuse and other dangerous behaviors, and we are doing all we can to educate our students,” Thrasher said in the release. “But all of our student organizations — Greek organizations and the other recognized student organizations on campus — must step up. They will have to participate in the solution.”