History of Psi Upsilon at RPI
The history of the chapter goes all the way back to 1954, during a time often called the "boom" of the Greek system at RPI. Although there were already 30 active fraternities on campus, a number that the RPI administration had decided would be a maximum, a group of students led by Eugene Margolis '57 joined together to form a social organization that would not be bound by RPI's complex rush system. The group quickly grew and, after examining its ideals and history, chose Tau Epsilon Phi for their letters.
The chapter continued to grow and acquired a house at 57 Second Street. At one point the chapter was the largest at RPI, having as many as 70 brothers. Then, the chapter decided to allow women into the Fraternity, but Tau Epsilon Phi national did not like the idea. Thomas Engellenner went to the National Convention in 1971 and nearly succeeded in getting the National charter amended to allow women. It was a close vote, but was defeated. The chapter initiated more female brothers anyway, but TEP refused to accept them.
After a series of bad rushes and more conflict with Tau Epsilon Phi, their numbers diminished to a handful of brothers. With so few brothers remaining, they no longer had the numbers to financially support their house on Second Street. Only eight brothers were left when TEP sold the spacious house to pay off debts owed by the chapter. The remaining brothers rented a house at 204 Spring Avenue. Though still a chapter of TEP, they continued to move further away from TEP National until 1978, when they formally disaffiliated with Tau Epsilon Phi.
Starting in 1979, the chapter set about searching for affiliation with a new national fraternity. All fraternal organizations not already on RPI's campus were petitioned. Most simply responded with "No, Thank You" on finding out that the chapter insisted on remaining coed. One of the few organizations to this was Psi Upsilon.
At around the same time, the brothers moved into the small house at 2140 Burdett Ave, after convincing RPI to lease the house to them. However, they weren't allowed to operate as a fraternity until they cleared final zoning variance from the city of Troy about two weeks into the semester. When they finally got their variance, they threw a room party to immediately follow Big Red Freakout. The party lasted an hour and a half, but every square inch of the house was occupied for that time, and the chapter was on the map at RPI in its new location.
To finish their application for full chapter status, they needed to complete a few things: A visit for dinner from Executive Director Henry Poor at which Ted Berger cooked an awesome meal which was followed by an interesting question and answer session; a question survey from the Executive Council that each brother had to answer on their own at a chapter meeting. These included questions such as "Why do you want to join Psi U?" and "What do you think brotherhood means?" After everyone had finished his or her question survey, Ted was still sitting with blank paper. When the President asked what he was waiting for, Ted responded, "I didn't study for this quiz."
The big day finally came on April 16, 1982 when the current brothers of the Epsilon Iota Provisional Chapter were initiated into Psi Upsilon as a full chapter at the Americana Motel in Albany. One of the more memorable aspects of the evening was the food products convention that was going on at the same time, which gave away souvenir cans of dehydrated water.