TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The president of Florida State University says he has no timetable yet for reinstating Greek activities on campus after they were suspended in November following the death of a fraternity pledge.
John Thrasher told The Associated Press in an interview that he will study suggestions from many groups over the coming month, seeking to have more definitive ideas on how to proceed by the end of January.
"I want to be deliberate about it and understand the ramifications of what we do," Thrasher said in an interview as the university began wrapping up its fall semester. "There are no silver bullets for the cultural aspects that are out there as far as drinking. I can't change all that. I think we will come up with good ideas and move ahead."
Thrasher suspended all Greek activities on campus on Nov. 6, three days after what police described as the apparent alcohol-related death of Andrew Coffey, a 20-year old junior who was a pledge at Pi Kappa Phi.
Penn State and Louisiana State universities also suspended Greek activities earlier this year due to student deaths, but Florida State's move triggered a bigger impact nationally. Since Florida State's announcement, Texas State, Ohio State and Michigan have also issued suspensions of Greek activities either due to a student's death or incidents involving fraternities and sororities.
Thrasher said that during the past month he has talked to faculty, students, clergy and other university presidents. He also held closed-door meetings with student organizations.
"I think the fact we did what we did gave other campuses the courage to make a bold statement and get attention of folks which has been a positive," Thrasher added.
During the suspension, the only events Greek life members can conduct are meetings with the university or their national chapter. Students are allowed to remain as residents in their fraternity or sorority houses. Thrasher also banned alcohol at all student organization events during the suspension.
A county grand jury will meet next week to consider whether anyone will be charged in Coffey's death, which remains under investigation by FSU and Tallahassee police.
Tallahassee Police said indications showed alcohol was involved in Coffey's death but the state Medical Examiner hasn't yet released its report.
Thrasher said he will appear before the grand jury to discuss what happened from an overview standpoint and to discuss what he hopes to do moving forward. He is optimistic though that revised policies could be in place by late February.
The suspension of Greek activities wasn't the only issue Thrasher had to deal with in recent months.
A week of classes was lost to Hurricane Irma early in the semester. And then there was the resignation Dec. 1 of football coach Jimbo Fisher, who went to Texas A&M after signing a 10-year, $75 million contract. Oregon coach Willie Taggart — a native of Palmetto, Florida who grew up as a Florida State fan— was hired less than a week later.
For Thrasher, who turns 74 on Monday, it was the most hectic semester of his four-year tenure. But he said he was satisfied that things were handled well.
"With everything that went on, we don't lose sight this university is on the rise," he said. "I'm optimistic about 2018 and having a great year. I do know in the spring we won't have any hurricanes, we won't lose any football games and I believe our head coach will be solid."