By: Chelsea Perry Alpha Psi Nu, an independent fraternity at UPEI, was denied society ratification by the UPEISU on February 10, 2019, citing concerns with party culture and hazing. (Photo by Mike Needham/UPEI)
At February 10th’s UPEISU council meeting, news broke that a student had requested and was denied ratification of a fraternity.
Ratification offers perks such as access to campus space and funding for events and initiatives.
Grant Harrison is a first year business administration student at UPEI and a founding member of Alpha Psi Nu, a standalone fraternity.
“My mother and father met because of the connections made by their fraternities and sororities. My brother was also a part of a fraternity where he has made lifelong connections that play a huge role in his personal and professional lives,” says Harrison.
“I feel that starting a fraternity, along with a sorority, on campus would help like-minded individuals connect and network to help better themselves as employees and people in general.”
Harrison first applied for ratification on January 26th, and was subsequently denied.
“The members of Alpha Psi Nu do not agree with the decision of the SU. We firmly stand by the belief that the creation of a fraternity on UPEI benefits both members of ΑΨΝ and the UPEISU.”
In a statement released by the UPEISU to The Cadre, liability concerns played a large role in the decision to reject the ratification of Alpha Psi Nu.
“We mentioned this matter to UPEI Administration, including the UPEI Risk Management Department, who advised us against ratifying the fraternity. This is because of the party and potential hazing aspect associated with fraternities.”
The statement continued that the student union insurance provider and UPEI alumni also voted against sanctioning, “not finding the risks justifying any potential benefits.”
The Office of the Vice President Administration and Finance was not available for comment at time of publication.
The UPEISU is not the first to refuse sanction to fraternities and sororities. Numerous student union executives across the Maritimes were consulted in the decision, citing gender- and GPA-based membership and extortionate fees as aggravating factors.
Some schools have gone as far as banning the presence of fraternities and sororities on campus entirely, which Queen’s University has done since 1933.
The ruling was a response to the formation of two fraternities in the 1920s, one for Arts and Science students and a second for Medical students.
The majority of Queen’s students, who prided themselves on community spirit and social equity, disapproved of these organizations because of the exclusivity that was fostered.
However, at UPEI, fraternities and sororities are permitted to exist independently on campus.
In the past year, existing fraternities across Canada have been taking steps to address the culture of sexual violence existing within their respective institutions.
The Concordia University chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon is one such fraternity. Members are now trained in consent and sensitivity regarding sexual violence and misconduct on campus.
In an interview with the CBC, Brett Gilmore, President of Tau Kappa Epsilon, discussed why it’s necessary to have discussions about the fact that “only yes means yes,” as body language gets misinterpreted.
However, some argue that media has misrepresented fraternity life.
Luke Phillips, a first year and founding member of Alpha Psi Nu, feels that the UPEISU may have a “muffled perspective” based on depictions in the news and film.
“I feel they should at least give us a chance before they ‘judge a book by it’s cover,’” he argues.
“Ever since the tenth grade I have wanted to be in a fraternity, not just for the crazy and wild time, though it will be a plus, but for living with close friends and forming forever bonds. It will also give more people the chance to live off campus on property that is university affiliated.”
Members of Alpha Psi Nu have expressed that they plan on appealing the UPEISU’s decision in the near future.