FAMU perspective on FSU tragedy


Photo credit: Tallahassee Democrat


Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old member of Pi Kappa Phi and a student at Florida State University, was found dead on Nov. 3. According to investigators, Coffey reportedly drank a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon which caused him to die from alcohol poison at an off campus “big brother night” event.

Three days following this tragedy, FSU President John Thrasher announced an immediate suspension of all Greek life at FSU.  The Pi Kappa Phi organization was suspended.

Nine members of the fraternity face hazing-related felony charges.

Bryan Smith, Florida A&M University’s special assistant to the president for anti-hazing, wants people to always remember that “hazing is a violation of university’s regulation and that it is against the law.”

FAMU administrators know all too well how a hazing tragedy can shake an institution at its foundation. The November 2011 hazing death of Marching 100 drum major Robert Champion led to the president’s resignation and an attempt to change the culture on campus.

Smith knows what a hazing tragedy can do to the reputation and representation of a university.

“I understand the need to deal with this situation as it pertains to Greek letter organizations but my only suggestion would be to make sure that we do not overlook the importance of hazing prevention for non-Greek affiliated organizations and to keep the message consistent across the entire university’ community,” Smith said. “I think that President Thrasher and the student leaders at Florida State did a great job of getting in front of this story and also dealing with this situation very aggressively.

“The message sent by suspending Greek life and their assistance with the police shows their students that they are very serious about this situation,” Smith added.

“Here at FAMU our famUly and organizations are very dear to us so we can imagine what FSU is going through.”

Devin Harrison, FAMU’s student body president and a Tallahassee native, has been following the developments at FSU and its suspension of Greek life.

“As a university that just lost a few students, our prayers go out to FSU in their time of bereavement. Hopefully this loss bands their student body together in pure love,” Harrison said.