By Letter to the Editor
The following is a letter from Psi Upsilon to the Board of Trustees following Dean Stephen Leavitt’s decision to extend their provisional status for another year.
Members of Union’s Board of Trustees; let us first begin by thanking each of you for your audience today; both Stephen and I understand the value of your time and appreciate the opportunity to speak candidly with you this afternoon. Unfortunately, the gravity of the allegations and imposing sanctions has cast a shadow of doubt concerning the future of Psi Upsilon at Union. We hope that our presence today conveys our commitment towards resolving this situation in a fair and measured manner.
We stand before you to address concerns raised through the course of investigations conducted by Union’s administration related to acts of intolerance and malfeasance on behalf of the current members of Psi Upsilon. Based upon meetings previously held with college officials, we have ascertained that there are rumors of Psi Upsilon’s members engaging in reckless behavior while under the influence of alcohol. We are not here to impede upon the due process of your judgment; in fact, as members of this small community of students we appreciate the efforts of the administration and this board to investigate all actions related to the accusations.
Given the highly publicized activities related to hazing at other campuses throughout the United States, we believe that this matter needs to be investigated thoroughly, and if deemed to be in contradiction to Union’s standards of conduct, adjudicated appropriately.
That being said, we are here to facilitate your investigation and to present evidence from the point of view of the members of Psi Upsilon—so that you may make a more informed and impartial decision. We acknowledge the gravity of the allegations, and in an effort to help you better understand the circumstances surrounding the events in question, we would like to reiterate the points previously addressed with the investigating authority:
- All members of Psi Upsilon, seniors included, were actively pledging the fraternity until our initiation which was conducted on October 31, 2011 under the supervision of both the chapter’s alumni and members of Psi Upsilon’s International Offices
- The branding occurred at an off-campus residence, absent a majority of the newly initiated members’ presence
- All parties involved admit to being under the influence of alcohol, however their individual levels of intoxication did not necessitate medical treatment
- It has never been; nor ever will be a requirement of a soon to be, or newly initiated member, to receive a brand or any other physical marking which can be used to identify themselves with the fraternity. We can honestly assert that this is an isolated incident, one that shall not be repeated.
Based upon these facts, we have prepared a defense of the fraternity and its members, and respectfully ask that you hold your questions until conclusion. In fashioning sanctions appropriate to the scope of the allegations and evidence at hand, please keep three themes in mind: Fairness, Equity, and Consistency.
Fairness: Out of a total of twenty-four active members, five participated in the branding. Collectively, these members represent a fraction of the chapter’s active roster. Actions of such a small sample in no way constitute a majority, nor an epidemic of poor decisions on behalf of the chapter. Choices made by the minority should not justify sanctions which will ultimately limit the majorities’ participation in Greek Life. However, we believe that individuals need to be held accountable for their actions, and receive conduct charges accordingly.
Equity: Psi Upsilon’s physical absence from campus has been strung out over the course of three years as a result of previously imposed sanctions. Sanctions currently under consideration would further extend this sentence to in excess of four years, representing a serious deviation from the historic precedents related to loss of housing privileges. In the context of these precedents, no other Greek organization has experienced such an additive sanction; especially in relation to the overall magnitude of the charges. In analyzing prior sanctions levied by Union, there is a clear disconnect between charges levied and equitable punishments:
- Chi Psi received a two year suspension resulting from a pledging related incident when the fraternity violated the college’s hazing policies, where-by the pledge required immediate medical attention due to the forced overconsumption of alcohol
- Psi Upsilon was suspended for a period of two years, and has been without housing for three years, due to an incident where a brother required medical attention as a result of his own overconsumption of alcohol
- Delta Delta Delta received a one year suspension after being convicted of underage distribution, irresponsible use of alcohol, and violations of the college’s hazing policies; all of which resulted in four pledges requiring emergency medical attention
Consistency: Based upon the prior sanctions levied against Greek organizations, we do not believe that the actions of a small group of newly initiated members constitute grounds for the continued absence of Psi Upsilon from Union. No member required medical attention for either the brand or their alcohol consumption, nor were there any violations of the college’s hazing policy. In setting a tone for the sanctioning of Greek organizations, we implore you to identify how these actions constitute grounds for the continued sentence of Psi Upsilon.
In reference to Delta’s sanctions, Dean Leavitt is quoted, “’With the [educational] sanctioning, I tried to be creative, in terms of trying to produce something productive out of it, and I didn’t feel that suspending the chapter would do that.’” With all due respect Dean Leavitt, why haven’t the allegations against Psi Upsilon been given the opportunity to be treated in an equitable manner?
On behalf of Psi Upsilon, we again would like to thank you, the Board of Trustees, for the time spared to listen to our point of view. All that we ask is that these allegations be viewed in the context of the three themes that we have previously outlined. Further, we ask that you heed the advice of the Greek Life Director, Timothy Dunn, who has publicly stated that the proposed punishment is in no way consistent with the allegations against Psi Upsilon, nor is it in the best interest of the chapter or the campus community at large.
Stephen F. Wendolowski, President, Psi Upsilon
Kurt A. Brimberry, Jr., Former President, Psi Upsilon