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Psi Upsilon's house at 2 Forest Lane.

September 16, 2017

Former Fraternity House Vandalized Following Possible Hate Crime

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The day after a black Cornell student said he was punched in the head by a group of white men who called him racist slurs in Collegetown, the phrase, “You Rasist Fucks [sic]” in black spray paint was spotted on an unaffiliated fraternity’s former house.

The black student, a junior at Cornell, told The Sun that a group of white men repeatedly called him the N-word and beat him early on Friday morning on Eddy Street. The student said he was “bloodied” and he spoke from a local hospital on Friday evening.

Josh Girsky / Managing Editor

The spray paint on the side of Psi Upsilon’s former fraternity house’s wall was covered with a wooden board at around 4 p.m. on Saturday, but shortly after, the graffiti was visible again.

Ithaca Police charged one student, whose identity the department has not released, with misdemeanor assault and said there were “no significant injuries” as a result of the altercation. Ithaca Police Lt. John Joly said the department is investigating whether there was “any racially biased motivation.”

While the University has not named Psi Upsilon, an unaffiliated fraternity, or its members, as being responsible for the assault, Black Students United at Cornell said Psi Upsilon members took part in the assault, and many students have privately and publicly posited the same belief.

No one answered the door on Friday afternoon at an Eddy Street residence that several students identified as Psi Upsilon’s underground “annex.” The residence is yards away from where a video from Friday morning showed two men using racial slurs against an unidentified student. One witness of the verbal exchange said it occurred about an hour after the junior — who was not at the scene of the second incident — was physically assaulted.

Cornell revoked its recognition of Psi Upsilon in May 2016, when the fraternity allegedly hosted a party in violation of the interim suspension. The suspension was also due to 31 judicial complaints against the fraternity at the time, Cornell said. In a separate incident, their former president, Wolfgang Ballinger ’17, pleaded guilty to forcible touching in February and was sentenced to probation in April.

Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, said in a statement on Friday that several students, in addition to the arrested student, may have been involved, “allegedly from a currently unaffiliated fraternity.” Lombardi did not name the unaffiliated fraternity and multiple university spokespeople refused to do so.

The former Psi Upsilon house at 2 Forest Lane was vacated after Cornell revoked the fraternity’s official status. The building is currently being renovated and has no inhabitants. The spray paint was covered with a wooden board at around 4 p.m. on Saturday, but shortly after, the graffiti was visible again.

The most recent graffiti comes after a spate of similar incidents in 2016, including one in January 2016, when the words “Kill Your Rapist” were spray painted on the side of the Sigma Pi fraternity house. In addition, the words “All Frats Rape” were spray painted on Baker War Memorial Flagpole in February 2016, shortly after Ballinger was charged for sexual assault.

Josh Girsky ’19 contributed reporting to this article.