Updated: Sept. 11, 2014 at 11:41 a.m.
It’s rush week for fraternities on campus, and members of Alpha Epsilon Pi have not let their recent loss of University recognition stop them from trying to enlist new fraternity brothers.
GW members of AEPi are actively recruiting students to join the unofficial chapter, hosting events at a local hotel and serving CapMac at The Avenue apartments this week – which violates University policy.
The University has not recognized the group since last winter, when it kicked the chapter out of its 22nd Street townhouse and booted it off campus for more than a dozen hazing, drug and alcohol violations.
The head of GW’s Greek life office, Christina Witkowicki, warned students, families and student groups in two letters last week that students will face disciplinary action for recruiting or initiating members into AEPi. Registered student organizations can also face sanctions for interacting with AEPi.
But the unofficial chapter does have the blessing of AEPi’s national organization, which recognizes the GW brothers as AEPi members, national spokesman Jon Pierce said.
“There is a group of young men who are part of AEPi, and I believe that they are out talking with other young men to become part of AEPi,” Pierce said. “Our position is these young men have a right to associate with Alpha Epsilon Pi, and we believe strongly in their right to associate in our association and we are working with the University.”
That contradicts GW’s messaging, with a public list of sanctions against student organizations marking AEPi as “closed by national headquarters.” The University charged the chapter with 17 counts of hazing, drug offenses and alcohol violations and took away its 22nd Street townhouse and housing in International House.
Pierce said AEPi officials are negotiating the group’s status with Greek life officials at GW, though Witkowicki declined to confirm University discussions with staff from the national headquarters.
AEPi members said last winter they surrendered their charter after the national organization threatened to remove members from the chapter. But this week, Pierce said the national organization did remove members of the fraternity, though he declined to say how many members were removed or how many remain.
On Tuesday, AEPi served Shake Shack at the Courtyard Marriott on 20th Street, a hotel employee said. Other events included wings at Circa and an invite-only event at Meiwah restaurant on New Hampshire Avenue. The group’s Facebook page is titled AEPi D.C., though it references GW and claims it has members who are current students.
AEPi is one of the two historically Jewish fraternities on campus, and its closure marked the first time a fraternity has lost its charter since the University kicked Delta Tau Delta off campus in 2004.
Witkowicki said under current agreements with the Interfraternity Council and national organizations, AEPi would not be able to return to campus until spring 2018.
AEPi previously lost its charter in 2001 and reorganized off campus as an unrecognized fraternity called the “Apes.” The chapter returned to campus about a year later.
Kasey Packer, president of the Panhellenic Association, said she talks with administrators and other Greek leaders “almost daily” about AEPi.
“When you look at other universities with the same issue, you hear horror stories of kids getting in real trouble or getting hurt,” Packer said. “We are trying our best to manage the situation.”
Packer said the University also sent a letter to parents of incoming freshmen this summer listing which fraternities and sororities are recognized on campus.
Unregistered student organizations do not receive University funding, cannot use space in GW buildings and are not assigned an adviser, Witkowicki said. Unrecognized groups also cannot host philanthropy events or participate in other chapters’ philanthropy events.
Since AEPi was kicked off campus, the IFC “cannot ensure the safety and success” of any students who decide to join the unrecognized chapter, said Interfraternity Council president Peyton Zere.
“The resources our recognized chapters offer cannot – and will never – be rivaled by unrecognized groups,” he said.
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that GW kicked Delta Tau Delta off campus in 2008. The chapter was banned from campus in 2004. We regret this error.