In the wake of Operation Ivy Leauge three fraternities lost their houses. Bwog asked to AEPi, PsiU and the IGC how life has changed and what they plan for the future. Pike declined to comment.
We first sat down with Matthew Renick, President of AEPi.
Bwog: How has your recruiting process changed?
Our recruiting process is pretty much the same as it’s always been except that we don’t have a house. However, AEPi is first and foremost the Jewish fraternity—we’ve been that way since 1913 and we’re continue to be that way, whether or not we have a house—so, we’re doing a lot of events through Hillel. JelLO orientation is going on at Hillel and if you go to those events you’re going to see a large AEPi presence. Next shabbat, we’re going to be sponsoring a kiddush after shabbat morning services. We’re also going to be at the Hillel club fair. Those are basic ways for us to become exposed to the Jewish community. Then we’re doing other things—we always have a big philanthropy event and that will be next week, AEPi a brother. We’re also going to have more fun things: we’re going to be taking kids to a Mets game and it will be the first time we’ve done that. We’re having an ultimate Frisbee tournament on campus and a Call of Duty tournament in Furnald. All sorts of little things to show that we’re a bunch of cool, Jewish guys, we like to hang out and we don’t necessarily need a house to do those sort of things.
The goal of recruitment is to expose ourselves and say that we’re still here, we’re still the Jewish fraternity and we still espouse the same values no matter what people may think of us and people have been attracted to that. Hopefully we’ll get more kids that way.
Where will your events be now?
Our parties are going to be entirely off campus. If you don’t have a house you’re not allowed to have dorm parties, that’s against the IGC rules. We are allowed to have off campus parties as long as we get our third party vendor contract signed. We’ll be having weekly parties in the Amsterdam café and as long as people are of age, they’re welcome to come to those. As you may know, we have sick DJs, we like to have a good time, and everyone who’s 21+ should definitely head out to those.
Are frat members still living together? Where?
The thing about living in a fraternity is that all of us are more or less best friends, so we like to live together. This suite of 3 is all AEPi, there are other suites across campus, I know a lot of our sophomores are living together in Furnald on the same floor. We don’t have some giant block somewhere but we’re pretty much grouped together in different areas.
Are you doing anything to actively improve your image?
(Laughs) All we’ve been doing since it happened is working to improve our image. Last semester we really bumped up the philanthropy work and the community service work. As you can see back here (motions to a framed award displayed on the shelf behind him) we won a philanthropy award from our AEPi national organization. We’re looking to win something like that from the University also. Our goal is certainly to improve—we’d love to win most improved chapter, we’d love to win chapter of the year and as President that is my goal, to take us up to that level. But in terms of improving our image, we still are the Jewish fraternity and people know that, and we still have one of the highest GPAs on campus. Our collective fraternal GPA is a 3.47, so we take academics very seriously, our members our upstanding young men. We hold leadership positions in College Republicans, College Democrats, Hillel, SGB, Engineers Without Borders. We really focus on campus Jewish leadership as well as other campus leadership positions. I feel we have successfully moved past this. Our rush and our new guys and our new program next year is going to highlight that.
How did you parents react when they heard the news? Has it been difficult to recruit freshman this year?
To answer the parents question, I think every parent had a question of what exactly is going on in your fraternity. The way the NYPD said it happened and the way everyone else said it happened is that it was an isolated incident with one kid. We know that to be true, the administration knows that to be true, and the NYPD knows that to be true. In terms of conveying that to the general public, I think that has happened. In terms of Freshman Rush, something we’re very proud of us that we were able to get four guys to join in the Spring after all this happened, after people knew we weren’t going to have a house next year, after all the negative publicity, four upstanding young men decided to join. I think that really speaks to our ideals, people recognize what AEPi is all about. We are here to be a Jewish voice on campus, we’re also a social and philanthropic voice. People want to be a part of that whether or not we can throw crazy house parties.
How has your recruiting process changed?
The heart of our recruiting process has always been in the small events we held – hookah nights, trips downtown and other events that allow us to get to know potential members better than is possible at large parties. Obviously, not having the house this year doesn’t make recruitment easier, but we still intend to have all of our traditional events and parties and stay active on campus.
Are frat members still living together?
Yes. We have set up an interim Psi U in a beautiful four bedroom apartment on the corner of La Salle and Broadway where three brothers and I will live this year, and other brothers share suites in EC and Ruggles.
Where will your events be now?
Until we reclaim our houses, we’ll be holding parties in EC, the aforementioned apartment and local bars and venues.
Are you doing anything to actively improve your image? Have there been any other big changes in the wake of last year?
Definitely. Last semester we unanimously voted to enact minimum community service hours and fundraising of 40 hours and $100 for each brother every year. In addition, we’re actively working with the RCC and other campus organizations to further increase our involvement on campus, but we’re always looking for more opportunities. If you have a philanthropy or community service event that you’d like help promoting and organizing, please hit me or one of our Philanthropy chairs up – we’d love to help.
Anthony Testa, president of the InterGreek Council writes:
While those chapters have lost housing and have been placed on probationary recognition status for the next couple years, the InterFraternity Council and the Office of Residential Programs- Fraternity and Sorority Life are committed to helping them regain full recognition status. A continued productive relationship between the chapters, the IFC, and the Office of Residential Programs will enable us to expand programming and development over the next couple years. They will continue to recruit new members to their organizations. In fulfilling the Fraternity and Sorority Life ALPHA Standards of Excellence, which is required of all Greek chapters to be considered in good standing, the InterGreek Council firmly believes that these three chapters will be able to meet the standards of their annual reviews. Greek life in general continues to create a positive impact in the community, and we look forward to additional philanthropic programming and growth during the upcoming academic year.
Greek man via Wikimedia