AEPi holds interviews, elects officers
By Andrew L. Fish
Founding fathers of the new Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at MIT, in conjunction with the fraternity's national organization, interviewed prospective members and elected officers at meetings Tuesday and Wednesday night. Robert A. Rich '90, David E. Borison '91 and Steven H. Baden '92 will be responsible for selecting members for the new chapter.
The recruitment efforts follow the reorganization earlier this year of the previous MIT chapter by the national organization <>
of AEPi, a historically Jewish fraternity, in which 45 of the chapter's 55 members were discharged. Of the 10 members invited back by the national, Rich is the only one to remain in the fraternity.
Due to the actions of the national, and amid charges that the reorganization was an effort to make the MIT chapter more Jewish, MIT followed the lead of the Interfraternity Council and withdrew recognition of AEPi as an independent living group several weeks ago.
IFC President Miles Arnone '91 and discharged AEPi members continue to assert that the new chapter is aiming its recruiting efforts at Jewish students and is very secretive about the recruitment process.
Although AEPi promised Arnone that he could observe the interview process, the fraternity opted to interview members without informing him. Borison said he decided to exclude Arnone because the IFC president had spoken against the new fraternity <>
at an earlier rush meeting. But after Arnone apologized Tuesday night, Borison said he changed his mind.
To Arnone, this was just another example of AEPi saying "one thing and [doing] another." "I don't care what they do," Arnone said. "I know how they're going about things."
New officers elected
At the Wednesday meeting at the Copley Marriott, Borison was elected master and Baden was elected lieutenant master. The other officers are: Scribe David J. Goldstone G, and Member-at-large Seth C. Grandeau '91. Andrew G. Tainiter '91, who was elected treasurer, later declined the position.
Ten undergraduates and one graduate student attended the elections meeting. In addition, five other undergraduates have expressed interest in joining the fraternity, but were unable to attend the meetings, Baden said.
To his knowledge, all of the students interested in joining were Jewish, Baden said. But "no one that has been interviewed has been asked not be involved," he added.
The new "founding fathers," the charter members of the new chapter, would be initiated into the fraternity by the end of the semester, Borison said.
The reorganization of AEPi was ostensibly taken because of three violations of the Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group risk management policy. But the national was also upset that the MIT chapter had changed initiation procedures, did not interact with other chapters, and, according to some of the old members, did not have enough Jewish members.
According to several of the ousted brothers, AEPi Supreme Governor Sidney Dunn visited the house in the in the fall <>
of 1984 and expressed concern about conditions, including the "disproportionately" small number of Jewish members.
Despite these claims, the Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts recently rejected a brief prepared by the house's ad hoc legal committee that charged "the basis for people being asked to leave was religious discrimination."
Associate Dean for Student Affairs James R. Tewhey said last month that he had "not seen conclusive proof" that the reorganization was based on discrimination.
Rabbi Daniel Shevitz, director of the MIT Hillel Foundation, said "the issues between the national organization and the local chapter are mainly procedural."
But Arnone noted that the rush effort was "clearly geared to Jewish people," and said that "if [targeting Jewish students] is a problem for the other IFC [representatives]," it could present a difficulties when the chapter seeks rerecognition.
"Psyched" for new members, Borison said the chapter would engage in no recruitment discrimination. He disavowed a poster and Tech advertisement which said the new AEPi chapter would give members "the opportunity to interact with other Jewish men." Borison claimed the ad was placed without proper consultation and was a "mistake."
Chapter distanced itself
from the national
Aleks D. Nikolich '87 explained that the national organization had lost touch with the MIT chapter in the early 1970s. During that time, when fraternities were weak, the MIT chapter was allowed to evolve without national supervision. Nikolich said that when fraternities began to grow in the 1980s, the AEPi national decided it was "time to clean house."
After Dunn's 1984 meeting, house members inquired about going independent, an action which Borison called "a serious insult to a lot of people."
Members said the national had a history of threatening the MIT chapter after they regained contact in 1984. They said national merely sent the chapter a letter notifying them of their probation and did not engage in any negotiations before deciding to reorganize.
Nikolich said the national's sudden change was unfair to the current membership, which had developed a character outside of the national organization. They "let our chapter go for 15 years and are now trying to turn it around."
When pressed, Rich conceded that "the national has not had good relations" with the MIT chapter. But Rich said it was not the religious makeup of the house, but rather the chapter's disdain for the national organization that led to the poor relations. "It wasn't AEPi," Rich said.
Fraternity like McDonald's
Nikolich said the national viewed the fraternity as a business, and added that Dunn had compared it to McDonald's -- every chapter had to be the same.
Indeed, of AEPi's 108 chapters, only about three do not have a majority of Jewish members, according to some discharged AEPi members. But Andy Mueller, the president of the non-Jewish chapter at the University of Missouri at Rolla, said his chapter has had no problems with the national fraternity "other than feeling out of place at national conventions."
But MIT members claimed the national was content with the Missouri chapter because there was no Jewish community to recruit from.
Mueller, who agreed that there were about three non-Jewish chapters, noted that several Jewish chapters have also been reorganized because of FIPG violations.
AEPi was entitled to take action against the fraternity because of the FIPG violations, Arnone said. But he said other national organizations "would have taken more constructive actions" in the wake of the violations.
Rich charged that by derecognizing the fraternity, MIT and the IFC were making light of the "serious" FIPG violations. The violations included having a beer keg, postering for an open party, and having a stolen road sign.
Arnone rejected this claim, saying the organizations acted because of the way the national treated the students. Rich countered that independent living groups have "a right to determine their membership" and that the ejection of 45 students is "not a legitimate reason" for derecognizing the group.
Rich said he "felt terrible" about the reorganization, but was not uncomfortable staying with AEPi. "I'd be more uncomfortable with being associated with the group that caused it [the MIT chapter]," Rich said.
He said the reorganization would have been unnecessary if the chapter had not changed initiation procedures, violated the FIPG, and refused to visit other chapters.
By harassing him after he decided to stay, Rich said the old members "threw brotherhood in the garbage."
"The question is whether the way they [reorganized] was right," Nikolich said. And given the national's actions, "should they be allowed to have a group on campus?"
"It's not that we're against a Jewish organization," said Sean R. Findlay '90, one of the 45 discharged AEPi brothers. "We just don't think AEPi should be that fraternity on this campus."
AEPi national officers refused to comment on the situation.