No Sugar

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No Sugar by Tim Finn ‘75

My Brothers:

I am not a member of the American Temperance Society.  I am not a Lieutenant in the Salvation Army.  I am not a 12-stepper.  Nor a Teetotaler.  Just the same, I know that denial is not a river in Egypt.  There is no way to sugar coat this.  We have an alcohol problem.

So as to keep the Alumni Brotherhood abreast, I inform you that there are recent incidents at our Chapter House that are being investigated by the new watch dog arm of PSU’s cultural war on Fraternities.  Even if the allegations are exaggerated—even if the worst suppositions can be explained away—even if the University is merely flexing its muscles to show they mean business—the underlying facts seem to support a breach of the “no hard liquor” policy and total ban on Greek social gatherings.  On September 9, no one got hurt, although a co-ed sought hospital treatment when her roommate couldn’t arouse her once she got back to her dorm.  The facts are fluctuating.  One version is that there was an “attic party.”  Likely including booze, though UG executives say differently.

In a different incident on September 30, DU “failed” an unannounced visit by the PSU inspection squad.  That failure is purportedly due to red Solo cups being strewn about the downstairs, which were littered among plastic water bottles.  The investigators reported that ONE of those empty water bottles “smell(ed) of alcohol.”  They reported around 100 people being inside, with 40+ people outside (which is still below our fire code occupancy limit of 156 inside).  Maybe this incident is trivial.  The University is pursuing it just the same.  In conjunction with our UGs, we have to address it and try to minimize any fallout.  Our House Advisors are guiding our UGs.

Our UG leadership may or may not have viable defenses to the allegations regarding both reports.  A “hearing” before the Director in charge of student conduct is scheduled after this eLetter is released.  I will report back to you if anything of importance happens.

Based upon these reports while investigations are on-going, by letter dated October 11, 2017, Delta Upsilon International has imposed a “Temporary Suspension of Activities,” at our Penn State Chapter.  That letter dictates that, in short, there is to be NO alcohol (or illicit drugs) of any nature on our Chapter House premises and grounds, including alumni gatherings.  This also applies to Brothers who may be of legal consumption age, even in the privacy of their residential rooms. NO means ZERO.  IHQ also prohibits hosting any social events, on or off Chapter House premises, specifically referencing an un-affiliated student women’s association known notoriously as “Trilogy.”  For the curious, Trilogy is the unaffiliated remnants of the national sorority formerly known as Delta Delta Delta  (Tri-Delt).  I’ll avoid the gossip.  Suffice to say that Trilogy and its female members at Penn State may deserve their notoriety.  It is unclear if our UGs formally scheduled any event with Trilogy surrounding these incidents.  It seems not.   It may have just been coincidence that a Trilogy co-ed, who was dating a DU, ended up inebriated at the hospital on a night after she had visited her boyfriend at the DU house.  Who knows what happened, when and where?

So, what’s the point of relaying to you all this detail of unfortunate news?  First and foremost, it is to keep you informed of all things DU, good or bad.

Secondly, is to ask your cooperation in not compounding any problems as we sort through the fundamental changes thrust upon us as related to our continuing good relationship with the University.  If you are returning to 229 Locust Lane for football weekends or for any reason, please feel comfortable with parking on the DU lawn.  Tour the house.  Engage our UG Brothers in conversation.  Look over the many physical improvements to the house and grounds that have been made in recent years.  Some weekends, such as for Homecoming on November 11, the UGs may have an open house with party trays, grilled chow and soft drinks.  There will be no beer, booze or mixers.  That’s the deal right now.  Please do not bring any into the Chapter House.

Thirdly, there are substantial changes on the immediate horizon that may affect our financial stability and our proud DU legacy at Penn State.  Our recruitment options for new members are already impacted by the new University rules on Greek life (such as rush/bid limitations, associate member (pledge) parameters, re-enforced anti hazing, alcohol, and misbehavior protocols).  Depending how those rules play out in the coming academic semesters, your Alumni Board may have to institute drastic and innovative initiatives on what it means to qualify for a bid at DU.  It is easy to assume that policies regarding alcohol will be on the forefront of the list of necessary changes.  Mandatory residence in house may also be required.

Due to prudent financial stewardship over many recent years, we may be able to weather a slowdown of house bills for a year or two, to some degree.  Your Alumni Board of Directors is exploring a variety of business plans--survival options, if you will--depending how the wind blows.   It’s not all doom and gloom yet.  Far from it.  But close enough to be worried about having viable options if things go south.

I am not announcing the dawn of the “New DU” with zero tolerance policies for alcohol, where high GPA pencil-necked geeks soberly debate calculus equations in Room 2 all night instead of noticing a Brother’s well-endowed sister who’s in town for the weekend.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But I like the old DU.  I like the current DU.  I like the DU with over a 100-year legacy at Penn State, through good times and bad.  Hippy-dippy times being what they were in the ‘70s, just about any stud with a pulse could get a bid at DU.  Going Greek wasn’t fashionable.  At one point, we all had single rooms and nobody lived out-of-house.  DU survived, due thanks in large thankless measure to the constant oversight of Alumni President Bill Landherr, '59 and other dedicated Brothers of his generation.

In 2009, we had 13 members.  This followed tough times when we had to reorganize.  Those Brothers are now commemorated as the 13 Re-Founders.  Theirs is the smallest composite photo in the house.  My son, Brendo Class of ’12, was one of them.  I became re-involved when I pinned him at his Initiation.  George Prutzman was in his Pledge Class, likewise pinned by his Dad, Charles “Rusty” Prutzman, III.  A proud moment for all.

Despite all the turmoil.  Despite all of the fluctuating new University rules.  Despite the bad press and national disparagement of Fraternities.  Despite our younger UG Brothers’ youthful indiscretions.  We all remain proud of our Penn State Delta Upsilon heritage.  We must not give it up without a fight.  Where change is needed, we will change.  For the better.  For all the right reasons.  State College real estate developers are chomping at the bit for an opportunity to bid for our land.  Let’s not give them the chance.

Your Alumni Board of Directors are exploring fundamental changes about what is should mean to qualify for a bid to be a DU.  The times…they are a’changin’.  But maybe not so much that we can’t adapt and pursue quality young men interested in continuing our proud legacy.

Take it for what it’s worth from this hypocrite.  The demon alcohol may ruin us, unless we adapt.

We should lead from the front.

Fraternally,

Tim Finn, President

Class of ’75—And Proud of it!

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