Psi Upsilon

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Psi Upsilon

The Coat of Arms

     Not Listed 
FoundedNovember 24, 1833; 180 years ago (1833-11-24) at
Union College
TypeSecret, Social, Literary
  • Robert Barnard
  • Samuel Goodale
  • Sterling Goodale Hadley
  • George Washington Tuttle
  • Edward Martindale
  • Merwin Henry Stewart
  • Charles Washington Harvey
Mission StatementUnited in friendship, Psi Upsilon members aspire to moral, intellectual and social excellence in themselves as they seek to inspire these values in society.
ColorsGarnet and Gold

Psi Upsilon (ΨΥ, Psi U) is the fifth oldest college fraternity in the United States,[1] founded at Union College on November 24, 1833. It has chapters at colleges and universities throughout North America.

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

The mission of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity is to provide its members with: Individual development of the highest educational, moral, intellectual, and social excellence; The commitment to a lifelong brotherhood of firm and enduring friendship; The opportunity for the development of leadership skills that can be utilized in an undergraduate environment and throughout life; The commitment to contribute to their educational environment, their community, and their country throughout their lives.

Fraternity Origin[edit]

"Secret Society Buildings at Yale College", by Alice Donlevy[2] 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 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 College in Schenectady, New York, 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 grand friends. They began to meet regularly to exchange essays and engage in literary debate, and soon it became tradition. The seven men realized there was something unique which was created, and wanted a way to make it permanent, and thus the founding of Psi Upsilon came forth. Psi Upsilon was founded on the evening of November 24, 1833. The first Constitution was adopted on January 10, 1834.[3]

1st Five Chapters[edit]

Some Famous Alumni Include[edit]

President William H. Taft

Fraternity Firsts[edit]

Psi Upsilon has been a leader in the world of American fraternities, especially during the late nineteenth century. In many areas it has shaped the fraternity movement that is known today, by being the first[3] and creating the trend to:

Fraternity Growth[edit]

When a member of Psi Upsilon at Union transferred to New York University 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[edit]

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 Omicron, 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.[3]

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.[3]

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 twelve years of the end of the war, 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 progressive expansion ever since.

Chapter Organization[edit]

Most chapters of Psi Upsilon retain the same type of governance, in a president, two vice-presidents, a recording secretary, and a treasurer.

Other leaders of the house are often the Recruitment chairman, the Ritual chairman, the House manager, the Social chairman, and the Risk manager.


Chapter Roll[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Psi Upsilon Tablet
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ a b c d Psi Upsilon Fraternity