The case for keeping FSU Greek life

In the wake of Andrew Coffey’s death, we must seriously consider our options

In the light of the death of Andrew Coffey, Florida State Greek life has been under severe scrutiny. Many Greek organizations have closed ranks and prevented their members from speaking openly on social media or to the press about the death or subsequent ban. A fraternity brother wrote this op-ed for The Tab FSU on condition of anonymity.

What was supposed to be a great Parent's Weekend for Florida State University students and families took a tragic turn, rendering mixed feelings from the Tallahassee community.

Two weeks ago, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge was found unresponsive at a home located on High Road and Buena Vista Drive. Andrew Coffey, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene. As the investigation is currently underway, exact details of the case are scarce.

Many rumors are swirling, some blaming the event on "big brother" night, and some saying a mix of drugs being consumed was at fault. Everything is hearsay until an autopsy is done and an investigation is completed.

The day after Coffey died, Pi Kappa Phi was suspended from FSU. Two days letter, President Thrasher announced an indefinite campus wide ban on Greek life. Earlier that Monday, police raided Phi Delta Theta and arrested a fraternity brother for trafficking cocaine. After Thrasher's announcement concerned Greek life, another drug related arrest was made at Pi Kappa Phi, the same fraternity Coffey was pledging.

What this issue brings to light is, what is Greek life? What are its true core values, its social status and principles? Over the last couple of years, Greek life was, and has been, the base of multiple controversial events that either transpired in a death or major injury of students.

In 2014, a Sigma Phi Epsilon pledge at Clemson University died during a predawn run. In 2016, a pledge for Sigma Nu at the University of Nevada died falling down the stairs. He was apparently "highly intoxicated" when he fell. Earlier this year, a Penn State University Beta Theta Pi pledge was involved in an alleged hazing incident called "the gauntlet" and was seen on camera falling down the stairs smacking his head multiple times. He died in the ICU the next day. Most recently, FSU added fury to the Greek life fire with Coffey's death two weeks ago.

The community has debated the issue thoroughly with a wide array of opinions. Citizens who support this ban point to a "poisonous culture" being created in the middle of Greek life. The mass generalization of Greek members as alcoholics and drug abusers is highly evident, but very hypocritical. The patriarchal implications are a factor as well. Many personal anecdotes of people being harassed by fraternity members via racial slurs, body-shaming or cat-calling.

With all that being said, the tragic death of Coffey should not result in Greek life being suspended from FSU's campus.

The pledge process varies at every campus and for all fraternities. IFC does very well with monitoring fraternal events with the resources they have.

As a former pledge going through the process, never was I touched in a harmful manner or forced to do anything without my consent. A ritual called "the pledge ride" (driving an active brother wherever they want you to) is very prominent among fraternities, and never once was I forced to drive anybody.

House cleaning is also popular during the pledge process and we weren't even allowed to offer to clean a house or else we'd be "dropped" from the respective fraternity.

Multiple fraternities have been put on probations for alcohol hazing and things alike. FSU has one of the largest Greek communities in the nation and to take that away from the university would be a huge detriment. Greek life is highly involved in our community. A variety of charity events take place that benefit organizations and medical research. Looking at fraternities as a whole, the positives out-weigh the negatives in regards to philanthropic events.

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Credit: Florida State University News

In the sociological spectrum, kicking fraternities off campuses could be highly debatable. These incidents have no excuses as many of them could have been very preventable. Deaths shouldn't exist in regard to fraternity hazing. The problem is that there will always be bad apples and rotten eggs, spoiling the rest of the batch. It's inevitable. With the rising number of students entering Greek life, there will be a higher chance of these incidents occurring.

At the end of the day, the microscope can only see so much and any tighter restriction could lead to a feeling of dictatorship from the students. This horrific event should never have happened but to punish fraternal life to the extent of banishment is a little outlandish.

But, that's what I think. How about you?

Florida State University