August 30, 2016

Chi Psi Fraternity to Recolonize After Two Years Without University Recognition

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Cornell’s Chi Psi fraternity will be recolonizing on campus this year, rejoining the University’s Greek community two years after it was banned from campus in the wake of a hazing incident, according to an Interfraternity Council press release.

Two recent Chi Psi graduates — Kyle Phillips, ’16 North Carolina State University, and Richard Merlino, ’16 University of South Carolina — will arrive on campus to help with recolonization efforts, according to the release. National Chi Psi staff members and undergraduate volunteers will also aid in recruitment efforts throughout the year, the release said.

“We like to think we bring the perfect combination of executive experience, and recruitment excellence to Chi Psi at Cornell,” Phillips said.

During recruitment this year, the plan is to find “the best individuals that this campus has to offer,” he said.

“In many cases we are targeting campus leaders, scholarship recipients and the like,” he explained. “Chi Psi is not looking for fixer-uppers. Instead, we are looking for passionate individuals from a wide variety of majors and backgrounds to bring a unique perspective to this organization.”

Phillips added that their search will not be limited to underclassmen, because “there is no shortage of gentlemen on this campus who as sophomores, juniors and even seniors demonstrate the values that we are looking for in future Chi Psis.”

The chapter is currently in a “colony phase” and will be considered a colony at least until next summer, according to Phillips. He explained that the recruited individuals will become colonists upon signing their bids.

“We anticipate and expect that Chi Psi at Cornell will incorporate the positive elements of this chapter’s lengthy history, such as a tight-knit brotherhood, a strong philanthropic interest and an actively engaged alumni base, while also excluding all of the negative attributes that have been plaguing Greek Life nationally for too long,” Phillips said.

Two undergraduates brothers from the University of Washington will also be on campus through the IFC’s fall recruitment period, but Phillips and Merlino will be on campus the entire school year, according to Phillips.

The Chi Psi house at 810 University Avenue — referred to as “the Lodge” — means a great deal to the fraternity’s alumni, according to Phillips.

“I have only been here for two weeks, and already I have met countless alumni who have stopped by the Lodge, simply to reminisce and tell stories about the brotherhood from as far back as the 50s,” Phillips said.

A fire destroyed the Chi Psi house on Dec. 6, 1906 and caused the death of four undergraduate brothers and three firemen, The Sun previously reported.

“The tragedy and resulting self-sacrifice and heroism that occurred on our property on Dec. 6, 1906 — what we refer to as the Cornell fire — is a true testament of the bonds of Chi Psi, and is common knowledge to every Chi Psi in the country,” Phillips said. “Cornell means a great deal to the fraternity, which is why it is so important to us to return.”

Phillips added that the plan is to renovate the house this year, so it will be ready for the brothers next school year.

The fraternity was placed on interim suspension in March 2014, in response to allegations of “serious” physical and psychological hazing, The Sun previously reported. The Cornell University Review Board officially revoked its recognition of the fraternity at the end of the spring 2014 semester.

“Interim suspension is used when … members’ actions are so egregious that the University is compelled to cease activities of the organization for the safety of the members, those joining or guests,” said the press release.

In response to an appeal, Susan Murphy ’73 Ph.D. ’94, former vice president for student and academic services, reduced the loss of recognition period from three years to two years and set conditions for the fraternity’s return to provisional recognition status in a year.

Chi Psi originally colonized at Cornell in 1869 and has had a “rich history” in Ithaca, according to the release.

“Chi Psi has a rich history of campus engagement at Cornell, and I am confident that they will continue this tradition with support from students, faculty, and administrators,” said Blake Brown ‘17, President of the IFC. “Chi Psi’s recolonization will not only strengthen our fraternity community, but also the campus at large.”

According to Brown, the IFC is advising Chi Psi during its transition by helping to develop a robust recruitment and new member education model and working with the fraternity to engage in various communities across campus.