Suspension on Greek Life temporary, according to VP of Student Affairs

Michelle Marchante/News Director

All 37 Greek organizations are suspended for a month starting Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, to give the university ample time to review and address concerns regarding Greek culture, said Larry Lunsford, vice president of Student Affairs.

Lunsford confirmed to Student Media that FIU decided to pause all Greek activity, which includes recruiting and events, due to the activities that occurred during the summer and fall semester, such as the incident surrounding Tau Kappa Epsilon’s private group chat.

During this pause, Greeks will only be able to participate in FIU-sponsored educational workshops. Those who are not under probation can also have chapter meetings.

Besides TKE, FIU also suspended four other groups for separate incidents prior to the Greek pause. One of those groups, Lunsford said, had been taken off suspension.

However, the Greek problem isn’t just an FIU issue, but a national issue.

This year alone, four universities– Florida State University, Texas State University, Louisiana State University and Penn State University, suspended Greek life following the death of four fraternity pledge members who died after parties or initiation events, according to the Miami Herald.

But, unlike those four universities, FIU has no plans to permanently ban Greek life, Lunsford said.

“Our response to that is one: I’m not an attorney, but we couldn’t ban it permanently because we’re a public institution,” Lunsford said to Student Media. “Private institutions can ban Greeks from being on campus, but as a public institution we couldn’t ban them permanently.”

The school, he said, also recognizes that Greek life is beneficial to the university, despite a few bad apples, which is why this review is occuring.

“We needed a cultural change in the organizations and the current culture is negative and hasn’t been appropriate behavior, so we need to talk standards for the organization. We need to talk about education for other alumni’s and advisory boards that we set expectations not only for our undergrads, but expectations for their advisors,” he said. “What are their values? All of them have rituals from their founders on which they were based and they need to get back to those rituals; we need to get back to ethics and values and other things for which they’ve been known.”

The philanthropy the Greeks do, all their campus involvement and support to the University, not just as students but as alumni is great, but the University, he said, cannot turn a blind eye to those who are putting a “bad name on the rest of the system.”

The standards set for the Greek organizations during this review will also apply across the board to other student organizations and students on campus because issues such as sexual assault, hazing and underage alcohol consumption are not always “100 percent Greek,” according to Lunsford.

The University, Lunsford said, was already doing a preliminary review on Greeks, but is going to take this break to involve students, alumni and others into the conversation.

“I have a personal philosophy: People support what they help create, so if they help create these standards and expectations for themselves then they have ownership and are more likely to support the outcome,” he said.

It’s uncertain at this moment who from the Greek community will be involved in this review, but the discussion has been going on for weeks, with President Mark B. Rosenberg having invited all 37 Greek presidents to his home several times over the semester to discuss the issues, problems and behaviors facing the Greeks, Lunsford said.

The hold on Greeks should be lifted by February, but it will depend on their behavior, according to Lunsford.

“Everyone has to be on board as to where we’re going and to use a cliche, you’re either on the train or get off.”

PantherNOW will update this story as it progresses.


Featured Image by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW.

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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