Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Senior Photographer

Cornell is investigating Psi Upsilon following the arrest of a student for assault, but the fraternity says its members were not involved.

September 18, 2017

Psi Upsilon Says Its Members Were Not Involved in Collegetown Assault

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Two days 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, President Martha Pollack said the University would not allow the Psi Upsilon fraternity to return to campus, pending an investigation.

“Based on what we know, and pending final investigation, Cornell will not consider Psi Upsilon’s reinstatement as an affiliated fraternity,” Pollack said in a message to the campus.

At least four student groups said in separate statements that members of Psi Upsilon, which had its recognition revoked in 2016, were responsible for the assault, although that has not been confirmed. On Saturday, “You Rasist Fucks [sic]” was seen in paint on the Psi Upsilon’s uninhabited former house.

Thomas Fox, executive director of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity, said in messages to Black Students United that he plans to investigate the matter to ensure that no one who took part in the assault “has any association with our fraternity at any time in the future.”

Ithaca Police arrested one Cornell student and charged the student with misdemeanor assault, Lt. John Joly and Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, said.

In an unsigned statement to The Sun late on Sunday, The Alumni of the Chi of Psi Upsilon at Cornell said it condemns the assault on Friday, adding that the “student involved in the incident on 9/15 is not and has never been a member of the Chi of Psi Upsilon.”

The association added that it is “confident” the arrested student “was not a member of Psi Upsilon prior to the fraternity’s status being revoked.”

The alumni association said that Psi Upsilon at Cornell, this semester, submitted a list of students to the University who were seeking to re-establish the chapter and that the arrested student “was not one of those students on our list.”

“We were deeply sorry to learn of the events of September 15, and our thoughts remain with those targeted,” the group said. “Our organization has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and we condemn the actions that took place in the strongest possible terms.”

The black student, a junior at Cornell, told The Sun that a group of four or five 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. Police said they are investigating whether there was “any racially biased motivation.”

The University has not explicitly said Psi Upsilon or its members were responsible for the assault, but the singling out of the fraternity in Pollack’s statement raises questions about whether the fraternity was operating underground and what Cornell’s investigation will entail.

Pollack said she also is directing the presidents of the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils to “develop a substantive and meaningful diversity training and education program for all their members” that will be implemented before spring recruitment.

No one answered the door on Saturday or Sunday afternoon at a residence on Eddy Street where the fight reportedly occurred, and which several students said serves as Psi Upsilon’s unofficial annex.

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 of this year.

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.

Josh Girsky ’19 contributed reporting to this article.