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Psi Upsilon
The Coat of Arms
Founded November 24, 1833 at Union Collegemarker
  • Robert Barnard
  • Samuel Goodale
  • Sterling Goodale Hadley
  • George Washington Tuttle
  • Edward Martindale
  • Merwin Henry Stewart
  • Charles Washington Harvey
Colors Garnet and Gold

Psi Upsilon (ΨΥ, Psi U) is the fifth oldest college fraternity in the United States, founded at Union Collegemarker in 1833. It has chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America. For most of its history, Psi Upsilon, like most social fraternities, limited its membership to men only. Today there are several co-educational Psi Upsilon chapters.

Psi Upsilon also has a foundation that provides scholarships and other financial assistance to students throughout the US and Canada, giving preference to its own members, as well as mentoring and other support services.

Fraternity Origin

In the 18th and 19th centuries, college extracurricular activities were primarily intellectual exercises in the form of literary debates, readings, and oratorical contests. These societies were too large to allow for close friendships to develop among all their members. The societies were heavily influenced by the colleges' faculties. Out of this stifling atmosphere came fraternities, where students were able to exercise their intellectual freedom. At Union Collegemarker in Schenectady, New Yorkmarker, with a student body of 232, there were few extracurricular activities, and so it is no wonder that more fraternities were founded at Union than any other school. The Delphian Society was started in 1819 and was more secretive and close knit than the other societies at Union. In 1833, five sophomore and two freshman members had become close friends. Their names were Robert Barnard, Samuel Goodale, Sterling Goodale Hadley, Charles Washington Harvey, Merwin Henry Stewart, Edward Martindale, and George Washington Tuttle. They began to meet regularly to read poetry and exchange essays, and soon it became tradition to meet once every week. The seven men realized they had something special, and wanted a way to make it permanent, and so they decided to found Psi Upsilon. Psi Upsilon was founded on the evening of November 24, 1833. The first Constitution was adopted on January 10, 1834.

Fraternity Firsts

During the late nineteenth century, Psi Upsilon was a leader in the world of American fraternities. In many areas it has set the pace for the fraternity movement, being the firstto:

  • 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)

Fraternity Growth

When a member of Psi Upsilon at Union transferred to New York Universitymarker in 1837, the time was right for Psi Upsilon to expand. Over the next few years, Psi U saw a period of unprecedented expansion, never seen by any fraternity before that point. 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.

World War II

All industry was redirected to the war effort. Food and fuel were rationed. Needless to say, there was little fraternity life during World War II. The mobilization brought new challenges to Psi Upsilon, especially to those chapters that had houses to maintain. A few chapters, such as the Omega, were able to rent their houses to the Army as barracks and offices. One chapter, the Epsilon Nu, even went so far as to rent its house to a sorority (Gamma Phi Beta). The rental income these chapters received allowed them to survive. Other chapters, such as the Lambda, could not afford the taxes and upkeep on an empty house and had to sell. Still other chapters, like the Eta, sold their houses or land to the college.

The effects of the war on Psi Upsilon continued long after the peace treaties were signed. First of all, Psi Upsilon had missed an entire generation. There were few alumni from the 1940s to take over the job of advising the undergraduates. Secondly, many of the undergraduates, particularly in the early 1950s, were much older than the traditional 18-year-old college student. They were often veterans of World War II, and did not need nor want advice from alumni. For the first time in Psi Upsilon history, and in every fraternity’s history, undergraduates were left to themselves, without the benefit of alumni advice and guidance. Most fraternities had a national headquarters and staff that could assist a chapter in trouble; however, the void was not completely filled..

From the time of the Founders, brothers with remarkable leadership and foresight have guided Psi Upsilon. Recognizing that times had changed, 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 The DIAMOND and secured the fraternity’s historical artifacts. Over time, the staff’s size, function and expertise 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, regular conclaves began to be held to train officers and alumni, and an annual leadership institute was created to inspire all brothers to greatness. Handbooks were published for each officer position and for general programs, such as alumni relations, chapter publications, membership recruitment, new member orientation and ritual. Alumni associations were given professional advice on fundraising and house renovations. From a low point in Psi Upsilon’s history, our undergraduates and alumni rose up to reinvigorate and modernize our society, making it stronger than it ever was before. Within 12 years, five chapters were reactivated and four new chapters were chartered. Expansion brought new vitality as well as new ideas to Psi Upsilon, and the fraternity has continued this progressively conservative expansion ever since.

Chapter Organization

Most chapters of Psi Upsilon retain the same type of governance, in 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.
  • The Treasurer oversees all financial matters of the chapter.
  • The Recording Secretary is the secretary and calls roll at the beginning of regular meetings and keeps minutes for chapter and Executive Committee meetings.

Other leaders of the house are often the Recruitment chairman, the Ritual chairman, the House manager, the Social chairman, and the Risk manager.
  • The Recruitment chairman oversees all recruitment efforts, and is often considered to be important enough to join the Executive Committee.
  • The Ritual chairman maintains respect for the ritual of Psi Upsilon.
  • The House Manager maintains the chapter residence and establishes regulations to keep the house clean.
  • The Social chairman is in charge of all social activities of the chapter.
  • The Risk manager is responsible for educating the membership on risk management concerns.

Chapter Roll

External links


  1. Psi Upsilon Tablet
  2. Psi Upsilon Fraternity

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