Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
(photo credit: VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY WEBSITE)
(JTA) — The Brown University chapter of the historically Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi has separated from the international organization and become an independent fraternity.
The president of the new fraternity, now called Beta Rho Pi, said the chapter broke with the international organization over biases against non-Jewish members as well as its handling of the issue of sexual assault.
Fraternity President Ben Owens said in an Op-Ed in the Brown Daily Herald that the chapter objected to the “demeaning way that some representatives of AEPi National treated our non-Jewish brothers.”
“A national representative told one of our presidents that a non-Jewish person could never be his brother,” Owens wrote. “In addition to the attitude such a comment seems to underpin, we took issue with their singular focus on the number of Jewish brothers in our chapter. In one particular instance, our National sent us an email with stereotypically Jewish last names to search for during the rush process.”
Owens said the fraternity intends to retain its Jewish identity.
“This is a house that will be shaped by Jewish values and traditions, but will never discriminate on the basis of religion,” he said.
Owens also said the chapter was disappointed with the fraternity’s parent organization for prioritizing risk management when discussing sexual assault instead of emphasizing education and prevention.
AEPi spokesman Jonathan Pierce told the student newspaper that the international organization would work with existing members or interested students to reinstate the chapter. He said there is no official process to disaffiliate as a fraternity and that each individual member must make the request.