FIU suspends Greek life following trouble on other campuses

Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg sent a letter announcing that Greek activities would be suspended starting Jan. 1 for a month.
Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg sent a letter announcing that Greek activities would be suspended starting Jan. 1 for a month. File

Following the lead of other major college campuses, Florida International University announced Friday that it will suspend Greek life for at least one month starting at the beginning of 2018.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg sent a letter to students and employees announcing that activities from Greek fraternities and sororities would be suspended for a month starting Jan. 1. He cited “growing concerns” about Greek life at FIU and on other college campuses as the reason.

“I appreciate the work done thus far by Greek leaders who understand that the current state is not acceptable,” Rosenberg said in the letter. “I hope all members of the Greek community at FIU will join me in ensuring that we take this opportunity to establish and observe norms that are consistent with safe and respectful behavior that uplifts the community and provides a supportive culture of growth and tolerance.”

Rosenberg’s move comes after the deaths of fraternity pledges at campuses nationwide and at Florida State University.

FSU suspended Greek life indefinitely in November. Penn State, Texas State and Louisiana State universities have also suspended Greek life following the deaths of pledges after hazing and initiation rituals.

The Phi Gamma Delta house was the first fraternity house to open on campus at Florida International University in 2001. Miami Herald File

The decision comes nearly two months after FIU suspended the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity when leaked screenshots of a group chat connected to the Greek organization showed anti-Semitic and rape jokes, non-consensual shared nude images of women, references to pedophilia and comments about a sorority member who died over the summer — among other offensive statements.

And four years ago, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity was suspended when a “private” Facebook page that included similar messages and photos of topless women, messages about drug sales and hazing, became public.

Larry Lunsford, FIU’s vice president of student affairs, said that while those groups behaved badly, the incidents are a chance to create new standards across the school’s 37 Greek organizations.

“Our goal is changing the culture but to also improve the system so alumni will be proud and not embarrassed by these articles and television reports of bad behavior by Greeks at FIU,” Lunsford said.

He said there will be meetings with alumni, students and the national chapters of the organizations with plans to submit recommendations to Rosenberg by the end of December.

The suspension will likely last only for a month.

“If it were extended, it would be because we didn’t reach a consensus or because one of the groups violated and decided to sneak and do something anyway,” Lunsford said.

The organizations will be allowed to hold chapter or council meetings and workshops to talk about the next steps, but all other activities will be suspended.

“The purpose of this pause in Greek activities is to allow time for the Greek community and university administrators to review and strengthen policies and procedures with the goal of enhancing safety and promoting behavior that is consistent with FIU’s values and our Student Code of Conduct,” Rosenberg wrote.