When History Repeats Itself (Somewhat)

13 07 2008

So, I was glancing through the Cornell Sun website, and came across this article:

http://cornellsun.com/section/news/content/2008/07/06/alumni-board-deactivates-current-members-psi-upsilon-fraternity

July 6, 2008 – 10:37pm
By Sam Cross

In an attempt to protect the prosperity of the fraternity and the safety of its members, the alumni board of Psi Upsilon decided to shut down the fraternity until the board deems it fit. Though the members of the campus fraternity have been deactivated, the chapter maintains its official recognition in the eyes of the University.

“While Cornell University still recognizes Psi Upsilon as an active fraternity on campus, the alumni have de-activated all of its members,” said Travis Apgar, associate dean of students for fraternity and sorority affairs, in light of the recent events.

Mike Bergelson ’95, alumni president of the chapter, explained the alumni’s decision to temporarily suspend the fraternity.

“The principles of the fraternity are to foster intellectual and social environment,” Bergelson said. “While we don’t want to be too prescriptive, the alumni saw that a far too great emphasis was being placed on the social aspects and not the fraternity values of brotherhood, responsibility and democracy.”

Brothers of the fraternity did not respond to The Sun’s inquiries.

Bergelson said he did not see the decisive move as a surprise and said the alumni have been trying to resolve problems with its current members for over a year.

“Last year at our annual meeting, the alumni told the current brothers that the house had some problems,” Bergelson said. “The physical house was not being properly kept, many brothers were not involved, along with other things. We spent a lot of time with the undergraduates to help them keep the fraternity in good order. Toward the end of the year, the leadership of the fraternity came to us and it was clear that a significant change could not be established in the current environment.”

Bergelson recalled an alumni meeting two weeks ago, during which the group discussed the chapter’s members and their leadership abilities. According to Bergelson, the group decided they would begin by rebuilding the chapter around a few key members.

“The alumni saw the fraternity not moving in the right direction and had to do something to resolve the situation,” Bergleson said. “It could eventually have put brothers in harm’s way. Psi Upsilon can still be fun and social but the brothers must do it in a safe way.”

The alumni did see the fraternity heading down a slippery slope. Bergleson emphasized that this was a “pre-emptive or pro-active” decision and the undergraduates had not committed a terrible transgression. Instead, the alumni saw the potential for trouble and sought to eliminate this possibility before anything occurred.

The fraternity’s alumni saw that the process of instilling brotherhood in its members had to be fundamentally changed to ensure that Psi Upsilon was a safe environment.

“We want guys to bond but we could meet our objectives in a better way,” Bergelson explained. “Brothers can participate in other activities like wilderness trips or community service to bond … Some of the rituals of the fraternity need to evolve.”

The University, which is not playing a prominent role in the matter, supported the alumni in their decision, asserting that the alumni’s chief concern was the well being of their undergraduate members.

“Psi Upsilon has had some judicial problem in the past few years,” Apgar said. “The University is in a role of support and advocacy for the alumni’s decision.”

When looking towards the future of the fraternity, Bergelson explained that the alumni are planning on carrying out the fraternity’s reorganization.

“Through individual interviews with each brother, we will determine brothers who should be activated again and others who should not,” Bergelson said. “Many of the brothers, even those creating problems initially, have stepped forward jumped on board with the alumni’s goals of rebuilding. Others, however, who still counter the alumni’s philosophy, will have to remain de-activated.”

Since the fraternity has not been kicked off campus by the University, the fraternity could be up and running by the start of this year. The decision of when to resurrect the chapter, however, remains at the discretion of the alumni.

“The rebuilding process could take us the summer and Psi Upsilon could be an active fraternity by the beginning of the school year,” Bergelson said. “It could be ready by the first semester, the second semester, or maybe in a year. What is more important is that the fraternity is heading in the right direction, upholding the rules of the state and the University as well as the ideals of fraternity men.”

***

But, this is not the first time in recent history that the fraternity Psi Upsilon has been in trouble. Here’s a Dear Uncle Ezra letter from October 11, 1988 (okay, maybe not so recent history- that was the month I was born).

http://ezra.cornell.edu/posting.php?timestamp=592545600

DEAR EZRA,
WHY WAS THE FRATERNITY PSI UPSILON THROWN OFF CAMPUS ABOUT SEVEN YEARS AGO?

                                                    SIGNED, CURIOUS

Dear Curious,
According to Randy Stevens, Coordinator of Greek Life, Psi Upsilon was not actually thrown off campus by the University, but rather the Psi Upsilon National Organization removed their charter.  Psi Upsilon had various problems which led to this.  Their membership was dwindling, they were very destructive to their house (which the University owns), they had problems with alcohol abuse, and miscellaneous other “behavior problems”.  But, as you may know, Psi Upsilon is now back on campus.  After about 4 years they petitioned for their charter, and, according to Randy, have been doing very well since that time. It’s nice to know people can learn and recover from mistakes.

***

http://cdsun-test.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/newscornell?a=d&d=CDS19810210.2.1.3&e=——–20–1—–all

Indeed, as the Sun Archives state, Psi Upsilon was removed in June 1979 for two years due to a number of infractions. The house, which was primarily football players at the time, was removed for “noisiness, general rowdiness, and a deteiorated financial status”.

The primary difference between the two cases is that one was initiated by the national organization, and the other by the local chapter’s alumni. But compare these quotes:

The principles of the fraternity are to foster intellectual and social environment,” Bergelson said. “While we don’t want to be too prescriptive, the alumni saw that a far too great emphasis was being placed on the social aspects and not the fraternity values of brotherhood, responsibility and democracy.”  The physical house was not being properly kept…

“Psi Upsilon has had some judicial problem in the past few years,” Apgar said. “The University is in a role of support and advocacy for the alumni’s decision.” (2008 article)

Their membership was dwindling, they were very destructive to their house (which the University owns), they had problems with alcohol abuse, and miscellaneous other “behavior problems ( 1988 DUE)

 

This is why you know your history. So you don’t make the same mistake and let history repeat itself.

 

P.S. So, I know one of the IFC Exec Board members is a Psi Upsilon brother. How does this affect his status with the board? Anyone have an answer to that?

http://ifc.cornell.edu/eboard.htm

VP for Judicial:
Matthew Dubbioso ’09 ___@cornell.edu Psi Upsilon

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