An interview with Psi Upsilon's President, Bill Mistretta, '11, and Risk Management Chair, Ian Smyth, '12. The chapter won the IFC Risk Management Award at the 2009-2010 Greek Gala.
What educational programming does Psi Upsilon provide on risk management and/or on the dangers of alcohol misuse to its' members that you think is unique?
Each new member is required to complete Greek Life Edu in order to be initiated and this is a requirement from the Psi Upsilon International Office. The chapter leadership tells new members that the chapter is theirs as much as it is the current members’, and it is within their duties as future members of the organization to take risk management into their own hands and understand how their actions hold consequences for the chapter as a whole.
What proactive steps does Psi Upsilon take to reduce risk and the likelihood of a tragedy?
The majority of chapter members feel obligated to run their future actions by the Vice President or President if they feel there is even a small chance that the activity will lead to a risk management issue or tragedy. In the event that a chapter member notices another participating in an activity that could easily become a risk management issue or tragedy, he generally feels it is his duty to either confront the other member about the activity or find one of the chapter leaders. If the confrontation route is chosen and it does not resolve the issue, the member then goes to the chapter leadership.
What does Psi Upsilon do to hold members accountable for their poor behaviors related to alcohol misuse?
The executive board has the ability to fine chapter members for poor behavior related to alcohol misuse. Although such fines can be appealed by the guilty individual to the standards board, the board generally recognizes such behavior should not go unpunished. Additionally, rights have been stripped in the past when a member has acted poorly. An example of such is the ability to participate in social and/or recruitment events. Another method that works well to keep members accountable for poor behavior is peer pressure as this type of behavior risks chapter disapproval. Since our philosophy is that risk management is a group responsibility and not solely on the shoulders of a few individuals, each member will bear another’s poor actions from the past in mind and work to pressure him away from repeating such actions in the future.
How does Psi Upsilon encourage dialogue related to risk management within the chapter?
We encourage each member to take risk management upon himself. The Vice President, who has risk management amongst his duties, and the President can’t be everywhere or see everything, so each member understands that it is also his responsibility to think about how his actions will affect the chapter as a whole. In the event that a member feels he is unable to act and resolve a risk management issue, the Vice President and President are available to help.
Any other comments as it relates to Psi Upsilon's risk management initiatives?
Risk management is not simply a list of rules and regulations. No single policy could possibly cover every scenario the chapter might face, and through open communication between the chapter officers and general membership, Psi Upsilon has effectively kept good risk management at the core of the fraternity. Psi Upsilon also believes that risk management goes well beyond alcohol-related incidents, and the chapter works hard to recognize issues in all activities.