Despite statements from Psi Upsilon’s chapter at Cornell and the fraternity’s national office that John Greenwood “is not and has never been” a member of their fraternity, evidence shows the 19-year-old student may have been an “underground” recruit of the inactive fraternity chapter.
On Monday, Cornell president Martha Pollack said, “Based on what we know, and pending final investigation, Cornell will not consider Psi Upsilon’s reinstatement as an affiliated fraternity.” Cornell revoked its recognition of Psi Upsilon “for a period of no less than three years” in May of 2016, though following an appeal process at the time, Lombardi reduced the term to “no less than 1.5 years.”
As a result of the chapter’s suspension, all undergraduate members were suspended, as well. According to a statement from Psi Upsilon national executive director Thomas Fox, “No undergraduate members were allowed to function on behalf of Psi Upsilon Fraternity, or take part in any fraternal actions: Social, Service, Recruitment, Member Education, or any other event a reasonable person may associate with Psi Upsilon.”
Greenwood is included, though, in a list of Cornell students that was published online labeled “Brothers Flashcards,” with information such as hometown, nickname, and major for each named student, such as new fraternity recruits or pledges might be asked to memorize. Mr. Fox confirmed to us that the list includes names he recognizes as members of Psi Upsilon, and that the page, which is no longer online, included the words to Psi Upsilon’s doxology, or hymn. Even if the suspended group had recruited Greenwood, though, Fox says that would not make him a member of Psi Upsilon.
“In our investigation of the events of September 15,” says Fox, “we found that no initiated members of Psi Upsilon were involved. However, we found some members of the suspended chapter were continuing to recruit, which is unacceptable.”
Mr. Fox says, “The chapter was originally planning to petition for reinstatement with Cornell this fall, but we feel it is best to wait to restart after all initiated members who are current students have graduated.” He says the Executive Council of Psi Upsilon Fraternity has extended its suspension of Cornell’s Chi Chapter until the fall of 2020. “No students at Cornell are allowed to associate themselves with Psi Upsilon Fraternity, use its names or symbols, or act on behalf of the fraternity. This includes recruitment of new members.”
Greenwood’s attorney, Ithaca lawyer Raymond M. Schlather, reached out to local media on Tuesday night to defend his client. “To be clear, the use of the n word, and any related racist or derogatory language, is completely unacceptable not only at Cornell but anywhere in America,” Schlather said in a statement. “My client understands this well; such language not only offends his values but does not reflect the person he is.”
Schlather alleges, “The facts of this matter, however, establish that John was in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind. Nor did he commit any crime.” The attorney did not respond to our requests for clarification or answer our additional questions.
“We plan to work with Cornell, its students and administration, to further investigate this matter,” says Fox. “But racism and hate has no place in Psi Upsilon and will not be tolerated.”