Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity returns to GW

Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity officials said the organization is pursuing University recognition after re-colonizing at GW a little more than two weeks ago. While national fraternity officials said the group plans to send a letter to University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg regarding recognition this week, some GW Greek-letter officials said the group should slow its colonization process and follow the procedures most fraternities follow for gaining recognition.

The historically Jewish fraternity has had at least two previous stays at GW, most recently being suspended from the University almost two years ago for breaking hazing policies. But the new group of 32 males has no connection to any previously recognized groups.

“We’re very excited about being back at GW and (having members) who want to follow our rules and have our commitment to Jewish ideals and action, and I’m very proud of the group,” Alpha Epsilon Pi Executive Director Sidney Dunn said.

A troubled past

Alpha Epsilon Pi lost University and Interfraternity Council recognition in early 2001 after multiple hazing incidents, according to past Hatchet articles. According to a January 2001 article, the University said the group was suspended for two years but could be readmitted in January 2003 following good behavior.

However, the original group lost national Alpha Epsilon Pi recognition and some of the former pledges were initiated as Zeta Beta Tau members that spring. After approaching the University for recognition and being turned down, the group lost Zeta Beta Tau recognition after additional hazing incidents. They then formed the unrecognized “Apes” fraternity.

GW “Apes” members declined to comment on the new Alpha Epsilon Pi colony.

Emory University also hosts two Alpha Epsilon Pi groups, one recognized and the other unrecognized, also dubbed “Apes.”

Emory “Apes” Vice President Dave Mann said his group continues to recruit and grow, following its loss of recognition about nine years ago.

Alpha Epsilon Pi re-colonized at Emory three years ago and currently has about 60 members.

“There’s really no relationship between (the two Alpha Epsilon Pi groups),” Mann said.

The new group of GW “founding fathers” has no links to former Alpha Epsilon Pi members.

“The fact that they are here had no effect how (we) started a chapter,” said junior Ben Block, elected president of the colony.

The colony consists of 11 freshmen, 11 sophomores and 10 juniors.

“Our No. 1 priority is to create a cohesive, solid (fraternity),” Block said.

The “founding fathers” are currently involved in a six-week trial period that involves recruiting new members and meeting national criteria for initiation, Block said.

A new beginning

The fraternity’s national officials said they plan to contact Trachtenberg this week to discuss recognition, and they are “confident” the fraternity will be recognized by the University.

But some GW administrators and IFC president Anthony Morris said its decision to colonize before approaching the University may negatively impact the group’s recognition efforts.

To gain GW recognition, an interested fraternity usually contacts the IFC or the University to declare its intent to colonize on campus, Morris said.

He said that although “you really can’t stop” fraternities from colonizing because it is an “informal” part of coming onto campus, “it affects admissions (into the Greek-letter system).”

Administrators also said Alpha Epsilon Pi should approach the University to discuss recognition before taking any further steps, such as initiating its members, and that they have not been approached by anyone from the fraternity.

“(Colonizing before contacting the University) is generally not a good way to start a relationship with the University or the IFC,” said Brad Bishop, coordinator for student involvement and Greek affairs.

Although the fraternity is actively seeking recognition, some GW officials said the timing is “off” because another fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, will be coming to campus this spring.

“Right now, after we bring Pi Kappa Alpha on, (we’d like to) wait another year before bringing on another chapter,” Student Activities Center Director Laura Taddeucci said.

The IFC approved Pi Kappa Alpha for expansion earlier this year and the organization will begin to colonize this spring.

But Michael Gargano, associate vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said the University is open to expansion.

“The one thing you always have to do with this stuff is keep an open mind,” Gargano said. “Just because there was a group of brothers that created a problem before, probably most of those brothers are gone … I would seek … a fraternity on this campus that contributes to student life.”

He also said it is “not unusual” for a group to approach a senior administrator before the IFC, and he has only heard “a rumor” that Alpha Epsilon Pi is back.

Alpha Epsilon Pi officials said they are confident about receiving recognition.

“I think everything’s negotiable,” Dunn said. “We have a good group of men.”

Morris said he suggests Alpha Epsilon Pi seeks IFC or University permission and does “not attempt to charter or initiate at the risk of offending” the University.

Block said he contacted Morris, and plans to speak with the IFC to discuss the fraternity.

Alpha Epsilon Pi national Supreme Governor Marc Himmelstein said he “hasn’t thought about” initiation and won’t until he speaks with Trachtenberg.

“We would not consider being an underground group,” Himmelstein said. “But I can’t imagine being not accepted (by the University).”

Himmelstein said he had a “very frank” conversation with Trachtenberg about the organization’s violations two years ago, and it was his understanding that the fraternity would be allowed back on campus in the future.

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