Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hazing Death Prompts 'Culture Change' at FSU

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hazing Death Prompts 'Culture Change' at FSU

Article excerpt

Byline: News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE | Following the death of a student in a fraternity hazing event in November, Florida State President John Thrasher told the Board of Governors on Wednesday that he and his staff are working on some major changes to prevent future tragedies.

"Our university continues to mourn Andrew Coffey and his loss to Florida State University," Thrasher told the board that oversees Florida's 12 universities.

Coffey, 20, died from alcohol poisoning during an offcampus fraternity initiation on Nov. 3. Nine members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity have been arrested and charged with hazing that resulted in a death or injury.

Thrasher suspended all fraternities and sororities on the FSU campus after the incident.

"I pray that his parents can find some comfort in knowing that we are working hard on this and that his death can perhaps serve as a catalyst to change our campus and we believe hopefully elsewhere," Thrasher said.

Thrasher said the FSU effort is being led by Amy Hecht, the school's vice president for student affairs. He said the school was also working with other Florida universities as well as national groups and organizations.

He said the final recommendations are not ready yet but he outlined three "broad" areas where he expects to see changes.

One area is "risk reduction," which Thrasher said is focused on the initiation process for fraternities.

"I'm very interested in understanding and wanting to institute, where we can, some new guidelines about fraternity initiations and the length of time it takes," Thrasher said.

Key issues, he said, are hazing rituals and alcohol.

"Those two things, I believe, are the catalysts that occurred in this particular incident but we know it's much broader than that," Thrasher said.

Another area of emphasis will be staffing, with Thrasher saying FSU is likely to increase its staff to better connect the university administration with the various organizations on the campus.

The third area will be the development of training and education programs that will come from reviewing not only the recent tragedy but also other activities that could put the health and safety of students at risk, Thrasher said. …

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