Greek life returns to FIU — but there’s a catch

Florida International University’s campus.
Florida International University’s campus. el Nuevo Herald file photo

After a month-long suspension of fraternities and sororities, Florida International University has announced changes to campus Greek life.

On Monday, the university announced that the campus chapters of 16 Greek organizations have been reinstated, but banned alcohol from all fraternity and sorority events for the rest of the semester.

FIU also slapped two fraternities, Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Gamma Delta, with two-year suspensions. A third fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, was suspended for an as-yet-undetermined amount of time. The length of the suspension will be decided after a campus hearing.

“Zero tolerance is our new normal at FIU,” President Mark Rosenberg said in a statement. “The fate of Greek life has been hanging by a thread and this pause gave us the opportunity to recommit to our values and end the age of permissiveness and ambiguity that has hung over our Greek organizations for far too long.”

Rosenberg announced the one-month suspension on Dec. 15, citing “growing concerns” about Greek life at FIU and around the country. During the pause, university administrators and Greek organizations “reviewed and strengthened” campus policies and held meetings and workshops with chapter advisers and alumni, Rosenberg said in a statement.

The suspension came after a string of deaths at fraternity parties and initiation events around the country, including the death of a 20-year-old pledge to the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity chapter at Florida State University. Andrew Coffey, a graduate of Pompano Beach High School, was found dead on Nov. 3, 2017.

The decision also followed a scandal at FIU, where a fraternity’s leaked group chat revealed photos of nude women, which had been shared without their consent, and offensive statements including Holocaust memes, jokes about rape and pedophilia and conversations about drug sales. The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter was temporarily suspended in October after FIU connected the Greek organization to the group chat. The fraternity also got in trouble for hosting a tailgate party where a minor was served alcohol, according to a statement from the university.

screenshot (1)
Screenshots of a group chat connected to FIU’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity chapter. The fraternity was suspended in October after the chats were leaked to university administrators.

Phi Gamma Delta was also temporarily suspended in October over allegations that the fraternity served alcohol to minors. Phi Gamma Delta had previously been suspended in 2015 after a female student died following an off-campus party.

Pi Kappa Phi got into trouble in November for hazing allegations and was temporarily suspended. The fraternity was further sanctioned after members held an unregistered party at their chapter house in December, according to FIU’s statement.

Universities across the country are pausing Greek life or suspending fraternity and sorority chapters in response to incidents on campus, sparking a national conversation about the future of Greek organizations.

FSU suspended Greek life in November following Coffey’s death. Then, in late January, FSU President John Thrasher announced new rules and policies designed to strengthen oversight of Greek organizations, including an orientation program for prospective members and a requirement that chapters maintain a grade-point average of 2.5. The suspension was partially lifted to allow for philanthropy and recruitment, but a ban on alcohol remains in effect for fraternities, sororities and other student groups.

Penn State, Texas State and Louisiana State universities also suspended Greek life activities last year following the deaths of fraternity pledges.