JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Greek life social events at the University of North Florida have been suspended indefinitely, according to a letter from the university's council presidents.
The message, obtained by News4Jax Monday night, says Greek life has put an "indefinite community-wide suspension" on all social events.
"With the current state of Greek life in both Florida 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 reads.
The letter defined social events as any activity that involves alcohol and partnership with another Greek organization, such as parties and tailgates.
"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 says.
Greek leadership made the decision without alerting John Delaney, UNF's president. the president of the Interfraternity Council told the dean of students of their decision on Tuesday.
It was signed by the presidents of the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Council.
The president of the Interfraternity Council told News4Jax that no specific event on the UNF campus prompted the suspension, but it was expected to continue into the spring semester.
"The decision was made as a preventative measure based on events on other campuses around Florida," the letter said.
Allison Moore, a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority said there have been incidents recently that have gotten out of hand and she thinks that’s why Panhellenic is stepping in.
"I think for a lot of us, it’s a shock," Moore said. "I understand why we did it, but others are confused. Why us, why us? But I think the general goal is to make all Greek communities safer and if we can play a part in that, it will be beneficial."
Another Alpha Chi Omega member was also surprised.
"It's tragic that students are unfortunately dying at those things," Rita West said. "However, it’s hard to blame a whole organization that’s nationwide for these activities that quite possibly could happen with or without Greek life being involved."
Last month, Florida State University imposed an indefinite ban on all campus Greek life following the death of a 20-year-old fraternity pledge after an off-campus fraternity party.
Greek leadership is scheduled to meet again Thursday. Until then, while all social activities are suspended, including tailgates, parties, formals and date functions, all single-fraternity or sorority Greek service projects will go on as scheduled.
Reaction to the news was mixed on social media with some students criticizing the timing. "When UNF suspends all Greek life the week of finals... can this week get worse?!?" one user tweeted.
When UNF suspends all Greek Life the week of finals... can this week get worse?!? 🙃🙃🙃— Madison Mihailoff (@mmihailoff7) December 5, 2017
Others, like the UNF Lacrosse team, made light of the news. "No Greek Life? Sounds like y'all need a place to tailgate..." the team wrote in a tweet tagged with a #PeepTheSchedule hashtag.
UNF President John Delaney sent the following message late Tuesday afternoon to students, faculty and staff regarding Greek life at the university:
Late this afternoon, I met with the students who head up the University of North Florida Council of Presidents, which represent the Interfraternity Council, the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Council. I asked to meet with these students to better understand their proposed and tabled moratorium on alcohol at Greek social events.
"This was incorrectly communicated as a "suspension of Greek activities," which wasn't the intent of the leaders of the Council and also not within its authority. Greek activity has NOT been suspended on campus.
"While no single event triggered their suggestion, there is clearly a genuine concern about some inappropriate behavior at some Greek events, both at UNF and across the country.
"I was very impressed with the students' 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.
"This week, the Councils will be meeting with the presidents, delegates and advisors of each chapter to discuss ways to ensure that UNF fraternities and sororities have responsible mechanisms in place to ensure they don't experience the same tragedies we've seen on other campuses. Following those meetings, the Council of Presidents will make a recommendation to me.
"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. 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."