While factions of the University community fight over residential space in the heart of campus, the Castle, one of the campus's most coveted houses, sits vacant and dark in the middle of the battlefield. The Castle, former house of the Psi Upsilon fraternity, is currently the only empty structure on the Walk and has become the focus of immediate plans for the campus thoroughfare. For some committee members, the prominent house, located at 36th Street and Locust Walk, is a microcosm of the whole diversity on the Walk issue. They say that the tone of diversification will be set when Vice Provost for University Life Kim Morrisson fills the empty building with new residents. "Filling the Castle touches very close to the issue of what to do about fraternity houses on Locust Walk," said Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Chairperson Susan Garfinkel, a committee member. The structure has been vacant since Psi Upsilon was kicked off campus last May for planning and executing the January kidnapping of a Delta Psi fraternity brother. The fraternity's charter was revoked for at least three years, and brothers were evicted from their house. Lawyers for the University and Psi Upsilon are battling over the ownership of the house. President Sheldon Hackney announced in September that the house would be filled by a non-Greek organization, opening the Walk to people who would otherwise not have the opportunity to reside in the campus' core. The president has since said he will not make any decision that will prevent Psi Upsilon from reclaiming the house if the fraternity returns to campus. Some students saw Psi Upsilon's eviction as a way to begin diversification. But since Hackney said he will not make permanent plans, they say the house will not contribute to valuable change. Many people -- including some committee members -- have criticized the administration for delaying the process of filling the spacious building, saying it reflects the University's sluggishness in addressing diversity on the Walk. They also say the president has neglected to solicit committee input before making his decisions on the Castle, leading them to think the president does not value members' advice on the Walk in general. "It's a policy statement made by the president that was not referred to the committee for its consideration," Faculty Senate Chairperson Almarin Phillips, a committee member, said last month. "It seems to me that if we have a Locust Walk committee to consider the uses of Locust Walk, matters considering the usage of Locust Walk should be referred to the committee." Committee members said that while not much discussion has centered on filling the Castle, finding new occupants for the building is on the agenda. Since Hackney announced that he plans to open the Castle to non-Greeks, Morrisson has received scores of petitions from students, faculty and staff, requesting a spot in the majestic building. The vice provost, who initially said the house would be filled by January, later said that it will remain empty throughout the year. She said that, although she cannot contradict the president's restrictions, she wants to hear the advice of the Walk committee before choosing the house's new occupants. United Minorities Council Chairperson Nalini Samuel, a committee member, said last month she thinks Morrisson would have made a decision about the house if the committee had started meeting earlier in the school year. "One of the purposes of the committee is to decide what to do with the Castle," Samuel said. "We should get on the ball and do it." Some people have supported the University's delay on the Castle, saying it is better to leave the house vacant an extra nine months than to make a rash decision about its future tenants. "I wouldn't want the University to put someone in hastily and then regret the decision after hearing the recommendations of the committee," GAPSA's Garfinkel said. Samuel said that while the Castle in central to the debate, its importance should not be overemphasized. "The Castle is a great opportunity to serve as an example of diversity on the Walk," said Samuel. "But I'm afraid it might become a token . . . a diversified Locust Walk shouldn't end there."Comments powered by Disqus
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