FSU banning Greek life: an appropriate punishment?

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Dreamstime/Tribune News Service

FSU suspended all Greek life on campus after a fraternity pledge died last Friday following a party. Alcohol is suspected to be related to his death.

Vanessa Dickerson, Staff Writer

Editor’s Note: Vanessa Dickerson is a junior studying Communication. Vanessa also partners with TealTV and has a true passion for broadcasting as well as sports journalism. All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Vanessa can be found on Twitter @nessadickerson. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected]

Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old Florida State University student, was found dead after a fraternity party over the weekend, according to CNN. Coffey was trying to become a full member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. After multiple attempts by emergency responders, Coffey sadly could not be revived after attending this party. Doesn’t this story sound familiar?

Maxwell Gruver, an 18-year-old Louisiana State University student, was found with a weak pulse the morning after a fraternity party in September of this year, according to Time.com. Gruver died later in the hospital and had a blood alcohol level of .495, which is more than six times the legal limit. Gruver was trying to be a full member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. It was later discovered that Gruver had to recite history of the fraternity and was forced to drink obscene amounts of alcohol if he got the answers wrong.

Tim Piazza, a 19-year old Pennsylvania State University student, was air lifted to a hospital after a pledge realized that he “looked f****** dead,” after 12 hours of being in this unconscious state in February of this year. Piazza had fallen down a flight of stairs during a hazing party for the Penn State chapter of Beta Theta Pi. Piazza unfortunately succumbed to his serious injuries and brain trauma.

FSU reacted immediately to Coffey’s death by suspending all Greek life at the university. FSU President, John Thrasher, said in order for the suspension to be lifted, there needs to be a “new normal for Greek life at the university.” This Greek life ban means there can be no new member events, council and chapter meetings, tailgates or any other social gatherings, according to CNN.

FSU finally reacted how every school should react. How many more young people are going to die before schools react in a big way? Penn State ended up banning Beta Theta Pi from campus after Piazza’s death, but in the grand scheme of things, what does that solve? Louisiana State reacted in a similar manner.

Big state schools like Penn State, LSU, and FSU have large Greek life populations. Banning the specific fraternities where hazing has led to a death is a start, but not nearly good enough. Other fraternities still participate in hazing, which leads to the possibility of this continuing to happen. FSU banning Greek life in general is a great step forward in rectifying this issue. It sends the message to all Greek life that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

My heart breaks for the families of Coffey, Gruver and Piazza because none of them expected to drop their bright, intelligent and hard-working children off at college and never see them again after they attend a party. Thrasher hit the nail on the head by saying there needs to be a new normal for Greek life. This is true in general.

Greek life can be a great activity for students to meet new friends, participate in giving back to the community and network. Instead, in some places, it has become a place where young people drink an unsafe amount of alcohol and participate in things they wouldn’t normally do to seek acceptance into their fraternity or sorority.

Greek life is at a turning point this year with three deaths so far in 2017, which is three too many. Greek life has the opportunity to change their culture to be safer and more accepting. If FSU starts to lead the way on how these crimes should be punished, maybe more schools will follow. Those three young men who died should show students that Greek life may be fun, but can change their life for the worst if they participate in this harsh hazing. By participating in hazing they could end up getting criminal charges that will follow them forever or worse.