Fraternity culture on college campuses can be controversial for a lot of reasons. The hyper-masculinity that comes from the all-male environment is only made worse when it’s full of young white men who are constantly trying to prove themselves to each other through problematic traditions.
Every now and then, something in the extremely private community of campus greek life leaks out to the public and exposes its much darker side. The most recent revelation involves a fraternity at the University of Chicago and leaked racist emails.
Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity commonly referred to as A E Pi, is under investigation after Buzzfeed released three years worth of emails from the fraternity’s servers spanning a time from 2011 to 2014. In the emails, members of the fraternity debated the malice behind the “n-word,” referred to the vacant lot next door full of weeds as “Palestine,” and went as far as to come up with something called “Marathon Luther King Day” in 2013, which was meant to be a day full of drinking malt liquor, eating fried chicken and watching Black Dynamite.
There was even an email where a member suggested that newly initiated brothers – commonly referred to as “NIBs”– should change their name to “NIGs.” Ironically enough, a member later on in the thread commented that that was the kind of message that would get the fraternity in hot water if their emails were ever subpoenaed. That was some spot-on foreshadowing.
Apparently, Buzzfeed was provided the emails by a former member of the fraternity who was fed up with their racist tactics.
Chapter President Josh Benadiva made a public statement regarding the emails on Facebook on Wednesday.
“We are disgusted by the emails sent to the fraternity listhost in past years, and regret that such hate was ever a part of the discourse in AEPi,” Benadiva said. “The current executive board is doing everything in its power to investigate and confront the individuals of the fraternity who sent these emails.”
A public apology was also attached to a link that would normally go to the fraternity’s website. The apology explains that the fraternity could choose to hide behind the excuse that these racist acts were the result of a handful of former members. But it goes on to list ways that the fraternity plans to be proactive and move on from this, including mandatory sensitivity training for new members, holding public forums to see how they can regain the trust of the community and proposing changes to their constitution.
While this specific instance is already in the damage control stage of these kinds of exposés, it serves as a reminder that fraternity culture on college campuses can be a very toxic one and has a long way to go in the realm of improvement.
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