Leaders of Fresno State's community of sororities and fraternities announced Thursday afternoon that their organizations are canceling recruiting and social activities this weekend.
The announcement comes in the wake of the death of a freshman pledge Sunday after a night of reported heavy drinking at a fraternity party.
Philip Dhanens, an 18-year-old from Bakersfield, died following the Aug. 31 party at the Theta Chi fraternity house.
Sororities that are part of the Panhellenic Association at Fresno State had planned to hold their formal fall recruitment of members from Thursday through Monday. The association is postponing those activities until Oct. 11-15.
The Interfraternity Council also canceled all social activities at the nine off-campus fraternity houses owned by its member fraternities, including Theta Chi. Theta Chi's chapter recognition was suspended by both Fresno State and its national headquarters last weekend.
Other Greek councils whose chapters are multicultural, African-American or Latino fraternities and sororities also canceled their social activities through the weekend.
The cancellation is a show of respect for Dhanens, who last week had pledged the Theta Chi fraternity. Earlier this week, more than 600 students, including sorority and fraternity members, remembered Dhanens at a candlelight vigil in the university's Free Speech Area.
In a statement issued Thursday by the university on behalf of the Greek organizations, United Sorority and Fraternity Council President Tressa Martinez said canceling the social and recruiting activities is intended to "show our support to the Dhanens family and to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol consumption with our members."
The Greek community at Fresno State, comprising 22 fraternities and 19 sororities, includes about 1,100 of the university's nearly 23,000 students.
About 180 women had signed up for pledge activities with five sororities that are part of the Panhellenic Association. Julianna De La Rosa, the association's president, said the pledge recruitment process "historically has been, and will continue to be, alcohol-free."
The local chapters, she said, are "committed to the values of scholarship, service and sisterhood."
The Interfraternity Council's president, Michael Eberhard, said Fresno State's Greeks "have a responsibility here to demonstrate that we are taking this matter very seriously."
The various councils' statements were posted on the university's Greek Life website. The university added that the councils' leaders are working on activities that will be announced next week to promote alcohol-abuse awareness.
"Canceling the activities sends a strong signal that our Greek Life community is very concerned about what happened last weekend," Paul Oliaro, the university's vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. "They want to step back and reflect on what they can do now and in the future to create a safe environment and to take care of each other."
Fresno State also announced that it is providing counseling and grief support for students at the University Health Center.
Fresno police and university leaders continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Theta Chi party and Dhanens' death, including reports of underage drinking possibly including people younger than 18 years old.
The Fresno County Coroner's Office is awaiting the results of toxicology tests before declaring a cause of death for Dhanens.
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