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Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi apparently won't be throwing any crazy toga parties at Dartmouth College any time soon.
Told it "would not be competitive," for a second time the Dartmouth College fraternity council recently blocked Alpha Epsilon Pi from being officially recognized and given colony status at the Hanover, New Hampshire, school two hours north of Boston whose fraternities inspired the film Animal House.
Through a secret ballot, Alpha Epsilon Pi was rejected for membership in the Dartmouth Interfraternity Council for a second time in early May after first being rejected in January.
Alpha Epsilon Pi had been the first fraternity to ask for recognition after Dartmouth trustees lifted the ban on recognizing new fraternities in June 2005, said Interfraternity Council President Alexander Lenz. He said the council intended to reexamine its expansion policy in the next couple of weeks.
While the council originally said it "could not sustain another fraternity," it also conceded that some in the council were uncomfortable admitting a fraternity whose membership was "eighty to ninety percent" Jewish.
Other Dartmouth fraternities which have minority group connections apparently did not have to go through the same process, said Patrick Karas, who is leading the advocacy for the Jewish fraternity's establishment as a "colony" at Dartmouth.
Karas said that Alpha Phi Alpha, a historically African-American fraternity, and Lambda Upsilon Lambda, a Latino fraternity, did not have to get recognition from the same fraternity council Alpha Epsilon Pi now petitions.
He said that many of the fraternity's presidents felt uncomfortable including new fraternities affiliated with religious or ethnic groups because many of these fraternities gave up their religious or ethnic ties "years ago."
Karas said that while Chabad and Hillel served as religious venues for Jewish students, the rejection of Alpha Epsilon Pi "creates a major problem for Jews who seek a [Jewish] community outside of the religion." He said that the fraternity would complement both of these organizations because it would bring together young Jewish men "outside of the temple."
Jewish students at Dartmouth had been interested in creating an organization outside of Hillel and Chabad which could operate inside Dartmouth's fraternity system, said Andrew Kamiski, who is with Dartmouth's Hillel.
Since many of the fraternities at Dartmouth were already competing for members among the male population, Kamiski said, "it is not in their interest to increase the number of fraternities."
However, citing a small Dartmouth Jewish population, Kamiski said he did not feel it was the right time for the Jewish fraternity to establish a "colony" at Dartmouth.
Kamiski said he was more concerned about the "embarrassingly small proportion of Jewish students at Dartmouth" which he said was the "least Jewish of the Ivy League schools."
Dartmouth Chabad Rabbi Moshe L. Gray expressed disappointment with the rejection, saying the establishment of the Jewish fraternity would be "another opportunity to increase and better Jewish life on campus."
"I think this does not bode well for Dartmouth, nor for the Jewish community here," said Gray. "I'm not sure what kind of message this sends to the broader Jewish community in America."
Gray said the fraternity recognition system was flawed because it gave the student fraternity presidents "first crack" at recognizing other fraternities, which the rabbi likened to allowing the players to referee the game.
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