In a move they said wasn’t prompted by a specific incident, student leaders at the University of North Florida have suspended all social events involving alcohol held by the school’s fraternities and sororities.

 

Presidents of the Interfraternity, National Pan-Hellenic, Multicultural Greek and Panhellenic councils all signed off on the Monday letter calling for the suspension that follows similar moves this year at other schools around the country, including Florida State University.

“Upon further discussion between our four council presidents, we have decided to put an indefinite community-wide suspension on all social events,” said the letter from the UNF Council Presidents.

“With the current state of Greek life in both Florida and and the nation as a whole, we recognize our community’s room for improvement and would like to take proactive steps to ensure the safety and longevity of fraternity and sorority life at the University of North Florida,” the letter said. “This suspension is effective immediately and will continue for a portion of the spring semester.”

The Council Presidents said, “We know that our chapters may view this as a punishment, but we assure you that this reformed approach will result in a stronger and safer community,” the letter said.

Just after 6 p.m., UNF President John Delaney released a statement saying he was impressed with the council presidents’ “passion for returning the focus of their organizations to the values they hold dear.”

“Frankly, many of my presidential colleagues haven’t had such a similar experience, and I am grateful for the passion,” Delaney said in the statement.

Delaney also said the councils’ message was “incorrectly communicated” as a suspension of Greek activities.

“I want to make it clear that this proactive approach, if implemented, doesn’t impact the majority of Greek life activities, such as rush events, member gatherings, chapter meetings or the organizations’ numerous philanthropic activities,” he wrote. “The proposal is, in essence, a voluntary, self-imposed two month “pause button” requiring no alcohol at chapter activities that would allow each chapter to refocus its efforts on helping produce outstanding men and women who are leaders in their communities.”

The student leaders’ move was not popular on Twitter, with complaints from students who identify themselves in their profiles as fraternity or sorority members. Some mistakenly said the university administration made the decision.

“When UNF suspends all Greek life the week of finals… Can this week get worse?!?” wrote Madison Mihailoff, who lists herself as a Delta Gamma.

“Bye UNF Greek life… I mean who even likes tailgates anyways?” asked a Twitter user named Madison, who also uses Delta Gamma letters in her Twitter bio.

“Hell yeah! UNF Greek life suspended!” wrote @TylerHoskins1, a Twitter user who lists Sigma Chi fraternity letters in the bio. “We made it boys! #Swoop.”

“Only good thing about them announcing during finals week that UNF Greek life is suspended is that now I have something to blame me failing my finals on,” wrote Delphine Coles, whose Twitter account says she’s an Alpha Phi.

Even the popular national Greek life culture blog, Total Frat Move, weighed in, saying Greek life “suspended for seemingly no reason” and called it “the dumbest of reasons to suspend Greek life.”

Florida State University indefinitely suspended its fraternities and sororities a month ago after the death of freshman Andrew Coffey, who was pledging the fraternity Pi Kappa Phi. Police indicated that alcohol may have been a factor in Coffey’s death.

Florida State joined Penn State and Louisiana State universities in suspending Greek life this year.

At Penn State, the February death of Timothy Piazza, a pledge of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, led to charges against 26 fraternity members. A grand jury found that, “the Penn State Greek community nurtured an environment so permissive of excessive drinking and hazing that it emboldened its members to repeatedly act with reckless disregard to human life.”

In response to the Penn State situation, North-American Interfraternity Conference President Judson Horras issued a statement saying that “substance abuse and hazing are not isolated to Penn State, and they are not isolated to fraternities.”

“This tragedy serves as a powerful call that we must redouble our commitment to work together to develop young men who are ready to lead their communities with empathy, respect and integrity,” Horras wrote in the May 12 statement.

joe.daraskevich@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4308

tessa.duvall@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4697