September 20, 2017

Greek Tri-Council Demands Perpetrators of ‘Psi Upsilon Incident’ Be Expelled

Print More

The Greek Tri-Council demanded on Tuesday that Cornell expel any perpetrators involved in the Collegetown assault of a black student on Friday, an assault the Tri-Council referred to as “the Psi Upsilon incident.”

The council made the demand that the University “expel the perpetrators involved” in its new Diversity and Inclusion Plan.

“We are not ignorant of the larger issues of systemic oppression plaguing fraternity and sorority life,” the plan said, which was signed by presidents of the Interfraternity, Panhellenic and Multicultural Greek Letter councils.

The plan came days after a black student said he was called the N-word and assaulted by a group of white men. Cornell’s Psi Upsilon alumni denied on Sunday that any members of the unaffiliated fraternity were involved in the assault, but the fraternity shut down its chapter at Cornell on Tuesday. The Psi Upsilon alumni group did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

“These students endangered the welfare of their peers,” the statement said, which was signed by MGLC President Brianna Barrett ’18, PHC President Caitlin Gleason ’18 and IFC President Drew Lord ’18. “These students have no place on Cornell’s campus.”

If other Greek chapters are found to have been hosting social events with Psi Upsilon, they will be penalized by the Greek Judicial Board, the council said.

Written by the presidents of each Greek Tri-Council in collaboration with its members and other student and faculty leaders, the plan called the perpetrators’ actions in the incidents “disgusting and deplorable” and said the Greek system is “historically and systemically rooted in exclusion and oppression.”

“We have to tear down much of the tradition and toxic culture that exists within fraternity and sorority life,” the group said.

The group released the plan less than two weeks after a member of the Latino Living Center reported hearing a Zeta Psi member chant “build a wall” near the living center.

The plan encouraged Zeta Psi to review its membership and required Zeta Psi members to take part in programming from the Center for Intercultural Dialogue.

The group said there was another incident in which a racial slur was used by a former Kappa Delta member against a student of color online. The plan called for an evaluation of Kappa Delta’s response, which had involved the member’s resignation, chapter-wide diversity training and workshops on inclusivity in recruitment.

The Greek Tri-Council also said it would immediately institute online diversity training for all Greek members before spring recruitment, which Pollack demanded of the groups in a statement to the Cornell community.

The group also recommended that the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life give itself the authority to revoke a member’s bid if the person fails to meet certain expectations.

The Tri-Council plans to collaborate with campus organizations to create a provision in the Campus Code of Conduct to hold individuals accountable for “hate speech.” Alternatively, the plan said the council would endorse an “alternative dispute resolution system” proposed by Vijay Pendakur, the dean of students, which would mediate behaviors regarding Greek students outside of the Code of Conduct.

This was also demanded by Pollack in her note to the community, and Black Students United Executive Board members said they had initiated the idea in a meeting with Pendakur following the reported assault.

The group also plans to add a vice president of citizenship, diversity and inclusion initiatives on all three councils, effective in the next election cycle. This post will oversee any concerns related to diversity and inclusion from chapters and individual members.

“There is a need for a position in all councils to oversee the continued progress and maintenance of initiatives for equity and justice in our community and at large,” the announcement said. “Other campuses’ Greek councils have adopted similar positions in recent years.”

“I cannot understate how important it is that we remained fully committed to following this course of action in order to maintain a healthy Greek community,” Lord, the IFC president, said. “Now more than ever, we must work to rid ourselves of any remaining traditions or mindsets that run antithetical to our basic principles of diversity and inclusion.”