Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity at FSU Shut Down; New Allegations of Hazing

Byron Dobson | Tallahassee Democrat | Oct. 22, 2019

The Beta Iota chapter of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity – which has been in existence at Florida State for 70 years – was shut down Monday night by its national office following new allegations of hazing.

The fraternity entered the fall semester under strict agreement guidelines issued by the Office of Student Affairs after its chapter and national office admitted to several violations in the spring, including possession of alcohol by a person under 21, holding an “open party,” allowing the open consumption of alcohol, hazing and failing to act against endangering the health or safety of a person or group.

But new allegations of hazing – which led to the chapter’s suspension on Oct. 1, was the last straw for its national office.

“The staff and alumni advisors in collaboration with the undergraduate leadership and university worked to develop an action plan to address several concerns that needed attention,” CEO Tim Hudson said in announcing the shutdown.

“It is very disappointing to learn the undergraduate members did not follow through on their end. We will continue our partnership with Florida State University and our alumni and plan for a successful return in the future.”

Typically, a chapter must remain inactive for four years before it is considered for returning to active status.

The revocation of the fraternity’s charter does not preclude the chapter from being charged with violations of the FSU Student Organization Conduct Code, and FSU may also file charges of student conduct code violations against individual members.

‘We tried to save them’

Amy Hecht, FSU’s vice president for student affairs, said her office met with the fraternity’s national office, alumni and current members and signed an agreement outlining the strict stipulations in July.

But it didn’t end there.

This fall, “there were multiple reports about hazing,” involving Phi Kappa Tau, Hecht said.

Phi Kappa Tau is one of four members of the Interfraternity Council at FSU suspended in recent weeks.

Hecht said the most recent is Kappa Sigma, which was suspended Oct. 14 following allegations of hazing. Also suspended are Delta Tau Delta, for allegations of hazing, and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, suspended Sept. 27 for alleged alcohol violations.

All are interim restricted status suspensions pending investigation by the university. Interim restricted suspension means the chapters are not allowed to operate as a fraternity at FSU and must cease all chapter operations and activities.

With Phi Kappa Tau’s closing, five Interfraternity Council organizations have been dismissed or suspended since 2018:

  • Phi Sigma Kappa
  • Phi Delta Theta
  • Chi Phi
  • Alpha Epsilon Pi
  • Phi Kappa Tau

The suspensions come almost two years after the death of Pi Kappa Phi pledge Andrew Coffey. He died at an off-campus fraternity party Nov. 3, 2017, after drinking a bottle of bourbon. After Coffey’s death, FSU President John Thrasher imposed an indefinite interim suspension of Greek life as the university developed new guidelines for fraternities and sororities.

Intoxication, cocaine allegations and critical injury

While details of the current investigations remain protected, FSU did release campus police reports involving Phi Kappa Tau from this spring.

The fraternity members live in a section of multiple-unit apartments within the private Greek-letter community on Heritage Grove Circle off West Tennessee Street.

Feb. 9: Police and EMTS were called to the scene after a “heavily intoxicated” female student was found on the concrete after leaving the fraternity house. The woman, who went in and out of conscious, told police she “only had four drinks” from one of the fraternity rooms downstairs.

The woman, who began to “vomit violently” and was unable to take care of herself, was taken to TMH on the advice of Leon County EMS.

Feb. 9-10: FSU did a walk-through prior to what was supposed to be a “dry party” at the fraternity’s cluster housing. But during their checks, they came across an intoxicated female who was relieving herself in the bushes. She was with another female who was sober.

“The sober young woman stated the security team was being very strict with alcohol on the outside portion of the party, but alcohol was being served inside the rooms.”

The same woman told police, “you know what “Snowasis (the party theme) is all about. It’s about cocaine.”

The women couldn’t use bathrooms inside because partiers were “doing bumps of coke.”

Police later found evidence of liquor, beer and smelled burning marijuana.

After conducting a walk-through of the units, police met with the chapter president who agreed to shut it down.

March 4: FSU indicated getting a delayed report in late 2018 of a student who left FSU after enduring a severe injury to his hand.

It was learned the student was pledging the fraternity. He described enduring mental and physical challenges, including one event called “nose on the table” where pledges had to crouch down and put their noses on the table. The student said the longest he did one such exercise was 40 minutes.

But the student described an incident where he was conducting chores at the Heritage Grove location when he severely cut the fingers on his left hand.

Fraternity members advised him to go to an urgent clinic, which he did but the injury was too severe. He was taken to TMH, but the hospital did not have a hand specialist available to treat him.

He then was airlifted to Blake Hospital in Bradenton.

Unable to identify any criminal violations at the fraternity house, the officer said the information would be forwarded to FSU’s Office of Greek Life to follow up.