By News Staff
Psi Upsilon’s provisional status was extended for an additional year by Dean of Students Stephen Leavitt in a hearing on Monday.
Under the extension, Psi Upsilon will not be eligible for housing for another year.
Union suspended Psi Upsilon from campus after an incident at a social event in the fall of 2009. The fraternity received provisional status last fall, and hoped to regain their campus housing in the fall of 2012.
The decision comes on the heels of an investigation into a branding incident last term, which the brothers feel is being held against them unfairly.
“The week before finals week, a group of four or five members got together after a party and branded ourselves,” said former fraternity president Kurt Brimberry, Jr. ‘12.
The event took place at 64 Union Avenue. According to Director of Greek Life Timothy Dunn, this house is not Psi Upsilon property.
The parent of a student notified the college about the branding, who then called a series of hearings to ensure that it was not part of a pledging event. The brothers say that the branding was entirely voluntary, and occurred long after the Oct. 31 initiation of their new class.
While the brothers who branded themselves accept that the college can charge them for their actions, they do not feel that the incident should be held against the fraternity as a whole.
“We feel that because some members were admittedly underage drinking, that if he [Dean Leavitt] felt that punishments were necessary, that those members who admitted to branding themselves and drinking should be held accountable and sanctioned within the scope of the school’s rules; but we do not feel that basing the punishment of the entire chapter on the actions of a few is entirely fair,” said Brimberry.
Although Leavitt would not discuss the specifics of the case, he spoke about reviewing the organization as a whole.
“When you join the organization, you sort of give up your individuality in that sense,” Leavitt said. “You’re recognizing that the fate of the organization is based on your behaviors as an individual and they can affect the whole organization.”
According to the brothers, Leavitt based his decision on Psi U’s previous actions.
“[Dean Leavitt is] referring to incidents that happened before the chapter got originally suspended. He referenced the build-up of prior incidents and that those events coupled with the severity of this incident leads him to believe the chapter needs additional time sans housing,” said Brimberry. “Our comment to that was that we already served our two year suspension. How can you hold us accountable for things we’ve already been punished for?”
“It just felt that he’s unrightly accusing our pledge class [of] being associated with past incidences, and you can’t compare the two because our pledge class didn’t know all those kids who caused all the problems that he’s basing his decision off of,” said current fraternity president Stephen Wendolowski ‘14. “We argue that you can’t hold us accountable for what people have done in the past. We have no relation with that.”
Leavitt conferred with Director of Greek Life Timothy Dunn and other college deans before making his decision. He feels that Psi Upsilon has room for improvement, and hopes to see more changes in the fraternity in the upcoming year.
“We want Greek organizations that are reflective of the ideals of Greek life rather than the same old Greek life,” he said. “We’re not just looking for them to follow the conduct code. We’re looking for more than that.”
Leavitt compared the case to Chi Psi, which was suspended in 2005 after a pledge was hospitalized for alcohol consumption at an unregistered party. Disappointed in the fraternity’s state, alumni took an active role in resurrecting the chapter.
“With Chi Psi,” Leavitt said, “they set the bar of behavior high enough that we spent the money to create housing for them again.’
The brothers of Psi Upsilon attempted to contact the Board of Trustees about their appeal, but the issue was not brought up at the trustee meeting this weekend.
A full copy of the letter they had written for the occasion can be seen here.
Director of the Board of Trustees Mark Walsh did not respond to requests for comment.
“Part of the challenge is that Greek life has now moved even beyond the standards that we were setting for Chi Psi. Greek life is in the process of really changing fundamentally, and taking a leadership role in redefining the culture of social life at Union. It’s great that they’re doing that, but the train is going to be out of the station very soon with all these other chapters, and the new Psi U would have to be in step with that,” Leavitt said.
Reporting contributed by Tess Koman, Ajay Major, Katie Manko and Aviva Hope Rutkin.