AEPi plans to reorganize
By Linda D'Angelo
Three undergraduates, in conjunction with the national organization of Alpha Epsilon Pi, will hold an open recruitment meeting for a new MIT chapter of AEPi tonight. Robert A. Rich '90, David E. Borison '91 and Steven H. Baden '92 will be responsible for selecting members for the new chapter, Rich said.
Following a recommendation of the Interfraternity Council, MIT withdrew recognition of AEPi as an independent living group several weeks ago. The national discharged 45 of its 55 Mu Tau brothers earlier this term. Of the 10 members invited back by the national, Rich was the only one to remain.
Rich subsequently moved out of the house, after "specific incidents of verbal and physical" harassment. When he informed the house government about these incidents, no action was taken, he said.
M. Travis Stier '91, president of the chapter before the reorganization, had no comment on these allegations.
A Jewish fraternity
Fifteen undergraduates have since expressed interest in joining the new chapter, Rich said.
While the national is historically Jewish, "anybody can rush to become a part of AEPi," Baden said. Both Baden and Borison dismissed the claims of discharged brothers that the reorganization was an attempt to make the MIT chapter more Jewish.
"We aren't going to rush only Jewish brothers," Borison said. "We are going to consider anyone who wants to join on an equal basis."
But Borison added that "the people interested in joining will be mostly, but not all, Jewish." Borison noted that all but one or two of the initial 15 interested in AEPi were Jewish.
"Just by the tone of their recruitment process," IFC President Miles Arnone '91 argued, the new chapter "is going to become a very self-selected group." By encouraging only Jewish students to join, Rich, Borison and Baden "may never actually have to reject any non-Jewish members," Arnone noted.
The posters publicizing today's recruitment meeting, offering prospective students "the opportunity to interact with other Jewish men," was indicative of the recruitment process, Arnone said.
Arnone was also concerned about a statement made by AEPi regional representative Andrew S. Borans, who tried to dismiss "valid charges of negligence under the poke of anti-Semitism."
According to the IFC chair, Borans "tried to dismiss charges being made about AEPi's poor conduct by saying . . . something to the effect that `when we try to associate we face a lot of antagonism and anti-Semitism.' "
The national representative's efforts "to capitalize on a fear that many Jewish people hold that they are possibly the brunt of anti-Semitism" were "very insulting to me as a Jewish person," Arnone said.
Arnone encouraged all ILG residents "to attend tomorrow's meeting in their colors to show their support, or lack thereof, of this situation." Prospective AEPi members need to "know how their peers feel about the treatment of MIT students by AEPi" national, he added.
Baden and Borison contacted Rich after hearing of the chapter's reorganization, Baden said. Rich forwarded the names to the national organization, and within days, Borans contacted Borison.
After assessing the level of interest in AEPi among their friends, the two held a meeting with Borans, Arnone, and prospective members. This meeting was only publicized by "word of mouth," Baden said.
Arnone criticized the secretive nature of the meeting. In earlier meetings with the national following the reorganization an agreement was reached, according to Arnone, so that "when any contact with MIT students had begun," he would be "notified and involved."
However, the national did not "hold its end of the bargain," and the IFC chair "found out very surreptitiously" what was happening.
"I found out about the Tuesday meeting from Borison," Arnone explained, "who made me aware of it" independent of the national representative.
Pressure for ASA
Since all fraternities belong to the Association for Student Activities, AEPi still has links <>
to campus. But one of the discharged brothers spoke with ASA President Kathleen Mahoney '92 yesterday and "asked that AEPi national be derecognized."
The request will be brought before the ASA Executive Board at its next meeting, and the group "will probably vote on it at that meeting," Mahoney said, unless "it needs to be looked into more."
Neither the national organization nor the three undergraduates currently recruiting for the new chapter has contacted Mahoney about ASA status for the fraternity.
The new chapter will first focus on "getting a core group by the end of this semester," Baden said. "Once that group is established, we will weigh the options of ASA recognition," he added.
Stier encouraged ASA to withdraw recognition of AEPi. "Most of the house feels AEPi has a right to exist, but we have had a bad experience with them," he said, "and on that grounds only, we recommend that MIT not recognize them as a useful student activity for a while."
If the ASA were to recognize AEPi national, Mahoney said, it would have to follow "the same regulations as any other student group: It has to be open to the entire student body, has to have a constitution, and must abide by ASA and [the Undergraduate Association Finance Board] regulations."
Mahoney doubted that the new AEPi chapter "would get recognized if they are exclusively Jewish."
Advisor to Fraternities and Independent Living Groups Neal H. Dorow hoped "that ASA takes into consideration what IFC and Dean's Office has considered in their decisions." He questioned "whether it is appropriate for ASA to recognize the group under the present circumstances."
AEPi also faces the possibility of having to immediately repay a $90,000 loan provided by MIT's Independent Residence Development Fund. The fund, which comes from alumni donations, is used to support development of ILGs.