Announcing the first step to diversify Locust Walk, President Sheldon Hackney said Friday that a non-fraternity group of students will move into the former Psi Upsilon fraternity house - known as the Castle - next semester. Speaking to more than 100 students at Hillel Friday night, Hackney said he wants to see a wider set of groups represented on the Walk. One way to move toward that goal, the president said, is to put a new group of students into the Castle. The majestic house, located at 36th Street and Locust Walk, was left vacant last May after the University kicked Psi Upsilon off campus as punishment for kidnapping a member of the Delta Psi fraternity. Hackney first brought up the issue of diversifying the Walk last semester, saying the center of campus is dominated by white, male fraternities. He said Friday that the current situation has led to incidents of harassment and gives a false impression of the University's make-up. And he said Friday that the situation was made worse by removing Psi Upsilon. "Unfortunately we have just kicked the most diverse group on Locust Walk off campus," the president said. Hackney also said that he would like a large concentration of students to live near the center of campus. He suggested moving offices, such as those housed in a duplex at 3609 and 3611 Locust Walk, away from the area, and replacing them with new residences. New residences could also be built on some of the "open spaces" on the Walk, Hackney suggested. Although stressing that he would like to move as quickly as possible to change the make-up of the Walk, Hackney said the process will take many years. A committee, which was formed last semester but has not yet met, will make specific recommendations to the president. A sign posted inside the entranceway window at the Castle yesterday asked people interested in more information on Psi Upsilon to call Bill Safran, but Safran, a Wharton senior, declined comment last night. Vice Provost for Student Life Kim Morrisson said last night that the University owns the Castle. But Morrisson retreated from Hackney's comments saying only that "the house is now closed and it is possible that it may be used, but no final decisions have been made." Lawyers for Psi Upsilon tried to prevent the University from removing the fraternity this summer, arguing that the Castle was not given a fair hearing and that collective responsibility for the kidnapping had not been properly established. But In July, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Armand Della Porta rejected Psi Upsilon's arguments. His decision authorized the University to take control of the house. Psi Upsilon has appealed to state Superior Court, but Morrisson said she does not expect the fraternity to win an injunction. "It is unlikely that [the appeal] would result in an injunction," Morrisson said. "It has been our experience that when the University has appealed, [the lower court's ruling] has been sustained by the superior court." Many students attending Hackney's speech Friday reacted favorably to the president's comments. "[Hackney's speech] gave me the impression that he was really trying to solicit student opinion before he went and made any great policy decisions," said College senior Dan Singer, the Undergraduate Assembly representative to the University Council Steering Committee. "I would expect the Castle to be filled next semester, but aside from that I don't think anything of significance will come about this academic year," Singer added. "Like most of the crowd at Hillel, I would like to see the walk diversified, obviously the sooner the better, but I don't want them to make hasty decisions which will be regretted five years down the line."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.