Psi Upsilon

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Psi Upsilon
Psi Upsilon Crest.jpg
Founded November 24, 1833; 185 years ago (1833-11-24)
Union College
Type Secret, Social, Literary
Scope Canada
United States
Mission statement United in friendship, Psi Upsilon members aspire to moral, intellectual and social excellence in themselves as they seek to inspire these values in society
Motto Unto us has befallen a mighty friendship.
Colors      Garnet
Symbol Diamond
Chapters 49 total, 27 active [1]
Headquarters 3003 East 96th Street
Indianapolis, IN, USA

Psi Upsilon (ΨΥ, Psi U) is a North American fraternity,[2] founded at Union College on November 24, 1833, making it the fifth oldest college fraternity.[citation needed] It reports 49 chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America, some of which are inactive.[1]

Psi Upsilon's foundation provides scholarships and other financial guidance to students throughout the United States and Canada, giving preference to its own members, as well as mentoring and other support services.


"Secret Society Buildings at Yale College", by Alice Donlevy[3] ca. 1880. Pictured are: Psi Upsilon Left center: Skull & Bones (Russell Trust Association). Right center: Delta Kappa Epsilon. Bottom: Scroll and Key (Kingsley Trust Association)

In 1833, five sophomore and two freshman members of the Delphian Society, a local literary group, had become friends and began to meet regularly to exchange essays and engage in literary debate. The seven men thus founded Psi Upsilon on the evening of November 24, 1833. The first Constitution was adopted on January 10, 1834.[4]

The first expansion chapter was started in 1837, when a member of Psi Upsilon at Union transferred to New York University. Ten chapters were founded in the first ten years, and eight more chapters were founded in the twenty years after that. By 1904, when the last founding father, Edward Martindale, died, there were 23 chapters and more than 11,000 members.[citation needed]

During World War II, a few chapters, such as the Omicron, rented their houses to the Army as barracks and offices. One chapter, the Epsilon Nu, rented its house to a sorority (Gamma Phi Beta). The rental income these chapters received allowed them to survive. Other chapters, such as the Lambda and Eta, could not afford the taxes and upkeep on an empty house and had to sell.[4]

After the War, the Executive Council hired professional staff and established a central office to assist chapters. At first the office consolidated initiation records and address lists, published a newsletter, and secured the fraternity's historical artifacts. Over time, the staff's size and function grew. Young alumni were hired to visit chapters as educational and leadership consultants, reviewing chapter operations and suggesting ways to improve. Leadership training was developed and expanded, and regular conclaves began to be held to train officers and alumni. Handbooks were published for each officer position and for general programs. Alumni associations were given professional advice on fundraising and house renovations. Within twelve years of the end of the war, five chapters were reactivated and four new chapters were chartered.[citation needed]

Fraternity Firsts

Psi Upsilon was the first fraternity to[4]

  • Hold a fraternity convention (1841)
  • Print a membership catalogue (1842)
  • Print the fraternity history (1843)
  • Print a fraternity songbook (1849)
  • Issue a fraternity magazine (1850)

Famous alumni

President William H. Taft

Chapter organization

Most chapters of Psi Upsilon retain the same type of governance: a president, two vice-presidents, a recording secretary, and a treasurer. The President presides over all meetings and enforces obedience to the Constitution and to the chapter by-laws. The First Vice-President is the internal vice president and helps maintain an efficient system of communication among the brothers. The Second Vice-President is the external vice president and serves as coordinator for public relations. Chapter may also have other leadership positions.[2]


In January 2016, a member of Psi Upsilon's Chi chapter at Cornell University made national headlines after it was alleged he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a female Cornell student in his fraternity house. He was charged with first-degree attempted rape, first-degree criminal sexual act, and first-degree sexual abuse. The fraternity has been suspended by the national leadership of the fraternity and the incident is being investigated by the local police.[5]

Chapter roll


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chapter roll, Psi Upsilon (accessed November 28, 2015)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Psi Upsilon Tablet
  3. Alice Donlevy was the author of a book on illustration called "Practical Hints on the Art of Illumination," published by A. D. F. Randolph, New York, 1867
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Psi Upsilon Fraternity Archived April 14, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  5. Cornell Fraternity Member Charged With Attempted Rape - ABC News

External links