Meredith Liu / Sun Staff Photographer

The former fraternity house is undergoing renovations to be converted into a student center that the Psi Upsilon Board of Trustees hopes will "promote diversity."

February 25, 2018

Former Psi Upsilon House Being Renovated into Student Center to ‘Promote Diversity’

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Five months after the Chi chapter of Psi Upsilon was closed, the former fraternity’s West Campus house has completed the first of two renovation phases to transform it into an open activity space for student organizations.

The renovation was originally proposed by the Psi Upsilon alumni board of governors, following its decision to shutter the Cornell chapter indefinitely. In a joint statement released in September, two Cornell vice presidents said the renovated space will be for student organizations “dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive student community.”

According to Lisa Anderson, interim director of facilities for student and campus life, the renovation was set up in phases, each targeting different areas and facilities of the building. The first phase is “primarily complete,” while the second will begin in early March.

“The scope of work of the initial phase was focused on renovation of the first floor common spaces, second floor bedrooms and bathrooms, exterior masonry repairs, creation of an [Americans with Disability Act] accessible entrance to the house, and general finish improvements,” Anderson said.

She added that there is still some masonry work unfinished due to weather conditions.

The second phase, which is expected to be completed by Fall 2018, will address the third floor bedrooms and bathrooms. It will also focus on floor, wall, ceiling and lighting improvements, Anderson said.

While the Psi Upsilon alumni board of governors is currently overseeing the renovation, Cornell Student and Campus Life is also “monitoring the construction work closely,” John Carberry, senior director of media relations and News, told The Sun in an email.

When asked about what student organizations will be using the renovated property, Carberry said there has been no process established or decision made regarding the future occupants of the former fraternity house or the date of reopening.

“Sometime before the house reopens, Cornell will begin a process to explore the future use of the location,” Carberry said. “That effort that will include input from the campus community.”

The decision to shut down the chapter and refurbish the building comes after an alleged hate crime committed by a Psi Upsilon member in September.

The University placed Psi Upsilon on interim suspension in February 2016 after its president, Wolfgang Ballinger ’17, was accused of rape (Ballinger later pled guilty to a lesser charge of “forcible touching”) and revoked its recognition three months later, after the University said the fraternity hosted a party on Slope Day in violation of interim suspension policy while also facing 31 judicial complaints.

The Psi Upsilon alumni board of governors did not return the request for comment by the time of publication of this article.