Sunday, January 25, 2009

Rhode Island Phi Psi Frat Boys Eliminated

URI Phi Psi frat expelled on drug, destruction violations
By Donita Naylor

A fraternity has been ejected from the University of Rhode Island under a “three strikes and you’re out” policy following a December raid in which a 20-year-old student was charged with a felony count of drug dealing.

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity is banished for 18 months and cannot reoccupy its chapter house at 4 Fraternity Circle for four years, said Tom Dougan, URI’s vice president for student affairs.
University police, assisted by South Kingstown officers, entered the house with a search warrant at 4 a.m. Dec. 5, campus Police Chief Stephen Baker said Friday in releasing the arrest report.

Eight people were handcuffed and waited in the hall while the police searched a room that was strewn with empty beer cans, the report said. The police said they found a locked safe in a closet.
Robert S. Gallo, 20, of Warwick, was arrested.

The police pried open the safe, the report said, after Gallo refused to disclose the combination. Inside, they found 100 grams of marijuana, miscellaneous pills, two scales, a 16-gigabyte iPod, $130 in cash and what they described as a drug ledger.

Online court records show that Gallo posted cash bail on the day of his arrest. His lawyer is listed as Michael J. Lepizzera.

URI’s Dougan said sanctions were imposed before students left for the holidays, and the 45 or so fraternity members found other housing for this semester.

“This is the exception,” Dougan said yesterday. “We have not closed a fraternity chapter here in at least five years. ... Our system has been recognized locally and nationally as an excellent fraternity system.”

In November, Dougan said, the fraternity was found in violation of URI policies on substance abuse and destruction of property, which included holes punched in the walls, furniture destroyed and glass bottles smashed in the shower and bathroom.

The house and furniture, Dougan said, belong to the Phi Kappa Psi Alumni Corp. The land on which it sits belongs to the university. The house is now occupied by about 35 transfer students, and a chef and other staff members continue to work there, Dougan said.

The fraternity can return as a student group in September of 2010, Dougan said, and the chapter can reopen its house in September 2012.

Phil Bowers, president of the Interfraternity Council at URI, said the action was appropriate. . “The events that took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house … stand against the values and beliefs shared by the Greek community,” he said.

“Greek life at URI is stronger now then ever before. Our fraternity and sorority community produces outstanding leaders and continues to be on the forefront of scholarship, leadership, philanthropy, and community service. The actions of Phi Kappa Psi are unfortunate yet do not in anyway reflect activities common in fraternity and sorority houses at URI. Our Greek community has made tremendous strides in the past fifteen years by holding ourselves to higher standards,” he said.

“Those that cannot meet our standards restrict the ability of the community to further grow and develop and must be punished.”

Efforts to reach Gallo’s home, listed as Underwood Avenue in Warwick, were unsuccessful. A phone number for that address was answered with a recorded message that said: “Per customer’s request, the number you are calling is suspended.”