Florida State University suspends all Greek life after student death

Florida State University suspends all Greek life after student death

There are a lot of movies that romanticize Greek life, from Animal House to Old School to 22 Jump Street. They make it seem like the college experience is one big awesome frat party where nothing goes wrong. But while we celebrate Greek life, there's an unfortunate dark side: controversial hazing rituals, accusations of sexual assault and tragic cases of drug abuse.

One of those cases has led to some serious repercussions at Florida State University. 20-year-old Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, died at a house party Friday. Authorities haven't determined the cause of death yet, but suspect alcohol was involved (obviously).

Sadly, there are several stories about college students dying from alcohol poisoning. However, FSU President John Thrasher's response is unprecedented. He's immediately suspending all Greek life:

"I want to send a serious message, I really do. We've got a serious problem.

This pause is needed to review and reflect on the loss of a young life and to implement serious changes. For this suspension to end, there will need to be a new normal for Greek life on campus.

We’ve got to take steps with our students, to make sure this never happens again.”

FSU has - or had - 5,800 members, one of the biggest Greek populations in the state. That's 22% of undergraduates. Even Thrasher himself was an alum, pledging to Sigma Phi Epsilon. But now all fraternity and sorority chapters are prohibited from new member events, tailgates, socials, philanthropy, retreats, intramurals, participation in Homecoming activities - pretty much everything. He even banned alcohol from all student organized events.

Is this response too extreme? A former president of Beta Theta Pi, John Armstrong, reacted to the news, and had mixed feelings:

“Unfortunately, there has been a rash of instances similar to this, so I can understand the reason for the response. I hope that it’s a short-lived response.

It might be a good idea for people to take a step back and reflect on what values we truly want to portray in the Greek system.” 

Obviously, Greek life isn't all about togas, keggers, streaking, panty raids and disturbing hazing rituals involving bottle rockets and butts. It's about fostering a supportive community, and building friendships could last long beyond college. However, incidents like these give the community a black eye. Pledges should keep their noses clean - literally. On Monday, a member of FSU's Phi Delta Theta was charged with selling and trafficking cocaine (seriously).

Do the good things about Greek life outweigh the bad? Does banning Greek life stop students from binge drinking? I don't know. I wasn't in a fraternity in college, because I was too cool. Frats don't want guys that are too cool. It makes them look bad. All the girls go for them, then they don't get any girls. Anyway, maybe the solution is to teach young people how to drink responsibly. The drinking age in America is 21, and it's naive to think everyone waits until then. That's why I'm offering to buy alcohol for any of you readers under 21. I don't care how young you are - just let me know what you want. I'll buy it for you and tell how much you can safely have. Actually, wait, no, that's a terrible idea. I don't have any answers. Sorry.