AEPi unjustifiably reorganized by national
According to the 1986 edition of the pledge manual of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the blue center of the pledge pin of the Mu Tau chapter "stands for honesty, which is the center and base of everything Alpha Epsilon Pi represents and strives to teach." Robert H. Rich '90 asks for a chance "to show MIT what AEPi is really all about, " ["AEPi justifiably reorganized by national fraternity," May 1]. It seems that from his account of our chapter's "long and sordid" history that he has forgotten both this tenet of honesty and the ideals of the national fraternity by which he seeks to condemn our brotherhood.
As part of our pledge program, Rich was interviewed last fall. He said then that our fraternity was certainly the best on campus. His strongest criticism of the house was that the cook did not make enough tuna fish salad. I do not understand his change of heart.
AEPi was founded because the Greek system was not open to Jews, but as one founding father of the Mu Tau chapter recently wrote to us, "If many of the fraternities at MIT now include members of all races and religions, then I believe that [national] was wrong, and is an anachronism that is being bypassed by history." According to our alumni, the decision to pledge non-Jews was the result of idealism, not simply the desperation of declining membership. Like the founders of AEPi described in the Pledge Manual, they were "free from the dead hand of the past" and sought to create a diverse brotherhood of "daring and imagination" which we hope to continue as Delta Pi.
If our distance from the national fraternity was the issue, then surely they should have reorganized the chapter in the 1970s when the chapter was not paying dues and was avoiding all contact with national. Sidney Dunn, the executive vice president, explained that the reorganization was timed to coincide with the retirement of Andrew S. Borans, their "reorganization specialist." Evidently, the restructuring of the MIT chapter was to be the crowning achievement of his career.
Contrary to Rich's claim that we "became isolated" from other chapters, the Mu Tau chapter has been represented at every national convention since 1986, and has always welcomed members of other chapters including brothers from New York University, University of Virginia, University of Delaware and Brandeis in the past year. Last fall, when the colony at Emerson College needed help, we lent them equipment for their rush and hosted them and their pledges. We offered them encouragement and helped them feel that they were struggling for something real.
Rich accuses us of desecrating the rituals and ideals of AEPi. The altered initiation ritual was an inheritance of the 1970s. The initiation last fall followed the prescribed national ritual, but both Rich and national miss the point; Borans stated in one interview that the national crest was more important than the people it represents. As one alumnus of 1964 recently wrote, "Brotherhood is what a fraternity is (or should be) about. Rituals, secrets and exclusionary principles are infantile inheritances from the Neanderthal era of fraternities."
The new initiation robes that we supposedly "desecrated" were identified by Alfred H. Bloom '50, Mu Tau corporation president, as the robes that he had purchased over 15 years ago. The robes were in the present condition long before any of the current brotherhood arrived here.
If national truly believes in the ideals that it has set before us, we deserve better than to be punished for the actions of the brothers of the 1970s and national's own misinformation. When Borans "showed up at initiation" in 1989, he learned of the date of the ceremony by posing as a local alumnus. What sort of behavior is this by the national representative of a fraternity based upon honesty?
We object to the presence of national representatives during R/O Week because we believe that the local chapter should dictate the future character of the house. The Jewish character of AEPi was not emphasized during rush because race and religion are not conditions for acceptance into our brotherhood. We fail to see how the national could fail to reach the conclusion that ethnically homogeneous groups are antithetical to the stated ideals of AEPi. Incidentally, "one of the top AEPi chapters [at] Missouri" that Rich praised also failed to mention its Jewish heritage in its 1986 rush book.
Briefly, the objectives of the fraternities as stated in the Pledge Manual are personal growth through chapter and pledge activities, scholastic stimulation and social awareness -- which is further described as including cultural, educational and community affairs. We can think of no better way to obtain these goals than through a culturally diverse brotherhood.
The reorganization conducted by Borans was, according to national and Rich, the result of continued Fraternity Insurance Purchasing Group violations. But Borans did not raise the issue of FIPG compliance in over half of the interviews. In fact, in one interview with a brother who was allowed to remain in the fraternity, Borans admitted that FIPG violations were not the reason for the reorganization. Borans maintained that the real reason was a 1985 letter to MIT from the house president, acting independently, exploring possibilities for breaking ties with national.
Rich quotes Borans as saying, "The answers are not all that important. What I am really looking for is an attitude" towards AEPi. I do not understand how a national representative who is ignorant of MIT's rush, living group system and our brotherhood can determine the worthiness of a brother in the 15 minutes that Borans originally scheduled for each brother.
At the meeting before the interviews, Dunn and Borans, representing the national fraternity, produced a document titled, "AEPi -- the Jewish fraternity" and said that they were here because the National Supreme Board of Governors had ordered them to reorganize Mu Tau to bring our goals in line with national's. According to David Bacharach, regional governor, the board decided only that something should be done about the MIT chapter and left the decision with Dunn.
Dunn then decided to reorganize the chapter. We asked Dunn why he would not reconsider and first try something less drastic -- such as reeducation -- before deciding to expel a majority of the house. Dunn replied that the reorganization was not his choice, but rather a mandate from the Supreme Board of Governors. For a fraternity founded on honesty with a heritage of "daring and imagination," this is disturbing.
We as a brotherhood came to the interviews with national with "positive attitudes and open minds." A statement by our lieutenant master circulated just before the interviews read, "Give national a chance!" Then Borans asked us to forget everything we knew about what it means to be a brother so that we could "begin with a clean blackboard." It became clear that staying with national meant rejecting the values and ideals that had flourished, and forgetting the brotherhood that we had developed. Perhaps it is easier for Rich to forget because he never really knew.
Jae H. Roh '93->
Richard Wong '91->
and 13 others->