MIT withdraws AEPi recognition
By Linda D'Angelo
and Annabelle Boyd
MIT will no longer recognize the national organization of Alpha Epsilon Pi as an independent living group, Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey confirmed yesterday. As a result, freshmen will no longer be able to reside there. The decision echoes a unanimous recommendation to President Paul E. Gray '54 passed by the Interfraternity Council at a meeting Wednesday night.
The action is in response to the reorganization of the MIT chapter by the national organization, which is Jewish. After a series of individual interviews at the beginning of the term, the national discharged 45 of the 55 MIT Mu Tau chapter members.
The 10 members invited to remain in the fraternity have since declined the offer, leaving AEPi national with no MIT brothers.
The national's abrupt discharge of the majority of its members was a major factor in the decision to withdraw Institute recognition, according to Gray. "Even if all 10 [of the invited members] had said they would come back [to AEPi], one would still question if that was a sufficient kernel to assure that the house would be a satisfactory ILG."
The alleged reason behind the national's reorganization efforts was the chapter's violations of the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group risk management policy. But fraternity members have charged the national with attempting to re-colonize the chapter as a Jewish fraternity.
The FIPG is a "collection of national fraternities who pool their resources to buy liability insurance at competitive rates" with the understanding that their chapters will follow a risk management policy, Advisor to Fraternities and Independent Living Groups Neal H. Dorow explained. The policy includes provisions for alcohol and drugs, hazing, sexual abuse, education and safety.
Richard P. Wong '91, an IFC cabinet officer and former AEPi vice president who was invited by the national to remain in the house, felt the decision to withdraw recognition was the appropriate response. "AEPi is inherently discriminatory and does not deserve a place on this campus," he said.
Many of the former AEPi brothers had prepared a resolution calling for the expulsion of AEPi from the IFC to be presenting at the Wednesday meeting. This measure was later found unnecessary, since the chapter had become "inactive," according to IFC President Miles Arnone '91. Once a chapter loses all its members, the "inactive" status is automatically conferred, Arnone explained.
If, in the future, MIT students wish to re-establish an AEPi chapter at MIT, they will have to present a request to the IFC. The council will then take a vote, and if favorable, the MIT chapter will be put on a six-month, probationary membership in the IFC without vote. At the end of this period, the IFC will vote on whether to recognize the chapter as a full voting member.
Discharged brothers look
to form new fraternity
Both those members who were discharged and those who declined an invitation to remain in the house, plan to start their own fraternity, Delta Pi. According to discharged brother and DPi organizer Sean R. Findlay '90, this is a "golden opportunity for the discharged AEPi members to be able to form a frat from the ground up based on what we believe in . . . unity, mutual respect, diversity. We've been kicked out because we believe that you shouldn't base your <>
rush on race, religion, ethnic persuasion."
Delta Pi has no national affiliation. "We're a local, independent organization, starting from the ground up," Findlay explained.
According to IFC Vice President Dawn L. Mitzner '91, "the IFC executive committee is meeting with former AEPi members on Wednesday as if they were a totally new fraternity." The council should vote on recognizing the new fraternity at its April 25 meeting, she said.
"It may very well happen that the IFC votes to recognize [DPi]," said Arnone.
But it may be years before Delta Pi can find housing. According to Tewhey, the first priority of the Housing Office is to provide funds for housing the sororities. "We would have to complete that project before we would agree to provide funds for another all-male housing unit," he said.
"We haven't given up hope of getting our new fraternity housed, but we're in the dorms now," Findlay said.
Most of the 45 discharged brothers have been absorbed into the dormitory system, Tewhey said.
Claims of religious
Members of the MIT chapter of AEPi have charged that religious discrimination was the main reason the national organization disbanded their fraternity. When each brother was interviewed by the national, Wong explained, they were asked about "issues relating to the religious composition of each individual" and not about FIPG violations.
A brief prepared by the house's ad hoc legal committee was submitted to the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, charging that "the basis for people being asked to leave was religious discrimination," Wong said. The CLUM has decided not to take the suit under consideration.
These charges of religious discrimination are "false," according to AEPi Supreme Governor Sidney Dunn. "That was not the motivation" for the reorganization, he said.
Instead, it was the chapter's repeated violation of FIPG risk management policy which prompted the reorganization efforts, he said. "The policies were being violated even when they were on probation," Dunn noted.
In response to the claims of chapter members that the interviews conducted during the reorganization process focused more on religious attitudes than on FIPG safety policies, Dunn said that "10 basic questions were asked that dealt with being in AEPi." These questions, which are asked of all brothers undergoing the reorganization process, address "attitudes of being in AEPi, not religious preference."
Dunn noted that the restructuring of the MIT chapter "was not unusual." The national organization has reorganized seven chapters in the past year. At Brooklyn College no one was taken back into the fraternity after reorganization and at Cornell University the national "only invited six" brothers back, Dunn said. Even the original AEPi chapter at New York University, which was suspended by the national organization last week, is currently being reorganized.
"The only other claim of religious discrimination" leveled against the national was at Rhode Island University, Dunn said. The "affirmative action office at the school investigated these claims and found AEPi innocent of any wrongdoings," he added.
Tewhey stated that religious discrimination did not appear to be a factor in the national's reorganization efforts. "I have not seen conclusive proof that it was," he said.
But currently several Jewish students interested in joining AEPi have spoken with representatives from the national. David E. Borison '91 and Steven H. Baden '92 have contacted Jewish students by word of mouth to recruit prospective members for the fraternity.
Dunn denied any involvement on the part of the national to recruit new members. Dunn said the national had not planned to hold a meeting until the Institute decided on AEPi's future.
Arnone, however, claimed that the national had planned to hold a meeting with representatives of area chapters and Jewish students on campus. Borison and Baden did hold a meeting last night, but representatives of the fraternity did not attend.