In defense of Phi Kappa Psi

PAIGE LISTON | pliston@butler.edu | OPINION COLUMNIST

When I first heard the news, it was hard to believe.

It is hard to believe a part of my school, which was fully functioning last semester, has been taken away. It is hard to believe such a tight-knit community of young men will no longer be able to set foot into their home.

It is always hard to believe the reality of a situation when you are faced with a loss.

Last semester, members of the Butler community experienced a loss on campus. The Indiana Zeta chapter of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi was suspended from Butler University for three years.

By losing its charter, Phi Psi will no longer be a recognized association on campus and has lost all rights to operate as a student organization.

The university’s decision to suspend the fraternity’s charter was due to four specific social violations within the last year, all involving the use of alcohol.

The first violation took place over the summer, the second was at an off-campus senior house last year, the third was due to an unregistered party last year, and the fourth and final violation was because of a party held in the beginning of December that violated Phi Psi’s social probation.

These allegations against the fraternity are true and warranted, but eliminating yet another fraternity on campus, in addition to the already-closed Tau Kappa Epsilon house, lessens Butler’s appeal to prospective freshmen, especially male students interested in a strong Greek life community.

Andrew Gudac, Phi Psi president, sworn in Dec. 7, 2014, said he felt the meetings between Butler’s administration and the fraternity were disappointing.

Last semester, Butler’s dean of conduct met with the fraternity to strictly determine if it was guilty of the allegations made against it, and nothing else.

Gudac said that during the meeting, none of the positive things Phi Psi had done were discussed, which should be factored into its “conduct.”

Phi Psi’s philanthropy and the money they raised were never brought up.

Gudac said he thought administration never gave him a chance to defend Phi Psi and all that it meant to him.

On Jan. 6 Gudac attended another meeting with administration, including Vice President of Student Affairs Levester Johnson, to discuss if there was any way the university could lessen the fraternity’s punishment.

“The meeting started off very stern,” Gudac said. “But throughout the meeting, I think L.J. really started to feel for us and recognize us as individuals. But unfortunately, at that point, the University’s decision was made, and it was too late to do anything about it.”

Gudac said he was willing to offer up any type of compromise with Butler’s administration, even excluding the use of the physical house of Phi Psi in order to remain a positive presence on campus.

“We went into the meeting with L.J. as mature individuals willing to admit to our mistakes,” Gudac said. “I think he realized he made his decision too quickly before he got to know us.”

This campus is small. Every piece of it directly relates to students in some way.

Although the people most affected by Phi Psi’s suspension were the members of the fraternity themselves, other students still feel the loss of an organization that had become commonplace.

Sophomore Stavroula Coulianidis felt the suspension of Phi Psi was unreasonable.

“I was devastated when I found out what happened,” Coulianidis said. “These gentlemen were proud to be a part of a fraternity, and to take that away from them is like taking away a family.”

I understand the university did what they felt needed to be done, but it is sad to see a group of young men forced out of their home and separated from an entity that felt as strong as a family.

Gudac said the main reasoning behind pushing to gain back some of the fraternity’s privileges was mostly for the younger men within the fraternity that had not yet had the opportunity to experience all Phi Psi offered.

“We were really just trying to fight for the younger guys,” Gudac said. “We thought this would be our year to turn Phi Psi around for the better, especially this coming semester. We wanted to better our reputation, and to not have the opportunity to do so is hard to come to terms with.”

It is difficult to face the fact that now two fraternities, Phi Psi and the TKE house, will remain on campus as empty and isolated buildings. This leaves Butler with only five fraternities, a number that could possibly turn away prospective students.

Despite the loss, Gudac said Phi Psi will continue to remain a positive presence on Butler’s campus.

They have given out a scholarship for $2,500 that was originally planned to go out during rush week. This award was given to Isaac Gluesenkamp, an individual the fraternity felt exemplified leadership to the utmost degree and was also academically inclined, promoting school and leadership within the Butler community.

In addition to the scholarship, the members of Phi Psi have set aside $1,000 to bring a speaker to campus to raise awareness about sexual abuse.

Gudac said they also want to start a club to continue with their philanthropy for the Boys & Girls Club of America. The club would be welcome to anyone on campus.

Gudac feels that after Phi Psi’s three-year suspension, the fraternity will come back to Butler’s campus. Phi Psi national headquarters is located in Indianapolis. I think they would want another chapter in their home city.

Gudac said the realization of losing his house still has yet to hit him.

“It was extremely stressful going through that process, but the guys were there for each other to cope with the loss,” Gudac said. “I think that shows the bonds we had as a fraternity, and it proves that we will never lose those friendships that were previously formed.”

Although Phi Psi is not technically a recognized organization on Butler’s campus, all those who were positively impacted by the fraternity in some way know their chapter will continue to make its presence known in the Butler community.

It is hard to lose any part of Butler’s campus, but it is important that we respect administration’s decisions and focus on how to preserve the positive aspects Phi Kappa Psi had to offer.

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4 Comments

  1. Randy said:

    Uhhhhh why is anyone feeling sorry for these guys ?? If it was one allegation, I could see why people would be upset. But FOUR??? It’s no one’s fault but theirs, if I’m being honest.

  2. Chris said:

    College students threw a party. Let me save my outrage. To be fair, we should penalize all Butler students who throw parties that involve alcohol. The universities heavy hand seems narrowly placed.

  3. Gary - Class of '73 said:

    As a charter member of the Indiana Zeta chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, I was disturbed to hear the chapter has been suspended. There is a more to the story than is mentioned above and the conduct by some members and their parents was reprehensible. The chapter was put on probation because of a sexual assault at a party in 2011. After this happened, National interviewed all of the undergrads and ended up dismissing 16 men from the fraternity. The chapter was unable to police itself and hold members accountable. Some members continued to do what they wanted without regard for the chapter. Phi Psi was told no more violations in June of 2014 by the Butler administration. Obviously the violations continued and they were suspended. After the suspension was announced the attitude of some of the members resulted in over $100,000 in damage to the house.

    When the Phi Psi colony was started it was by a group of young men that wanted the fraternity experience without the “Animal House” experience. We did not believe in pledge harassment. Our hell week consisted of wearing a coat and tie to class for the week. Having your pledge paddles signed by sorority members. Doing a favor for your fraternity father. Initiation was held in the house and there was nothing more than an oath of membership and a few rituals, none of them physical or harmful. Did we party? Yes we did, but we took care of business first and always respected our guests. The chapter won the scholarship trophy every semester during my time at Butler and for years after.

    I’m hoping that when the chapter is re-established in 3 years that it will be more in line with the chapter founders original vision.

  4. Pat said:

    The fraternity threw their “brother” under the bus because they thought the SJW sheep would go easier on them. They didn’t.

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