The Conspiracy

Alpha Epsilon Pi and the real meaning of ‘Greek life’ [Fraternity]

Hazing and a Jewish fraternity. | Photo from George Washington University website. (http://www.gwu.edu/~aepi/)

I feel bad for the caretaker of Charles C. Moskowitz’s grave. The founding father of Alpha Epsilon Pi has probably made a racket rolling around the past month, as his progeny at Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania have smeared the reputation of his fraternity.

These hazing episodes give critics prime material to decry AEPi as an excuse for binge drinking and abusive behavior. Unfortunately, some AEPi members I have met and know do use AEPi to justify and promote their irresponsible drinking, excessive drug use and bullying of other members. Witnessing this behavior has made me furious and led me to question my affiliation with AEPi and the purpose of Greek life altogether.

During my two and a half years in AEPi, I’ve realized that brothers who use AEPi as a way to live their twisted fantasies, like the members at BU and UPenn, did a bad job of reading their pledge packets. They failed to understand the greater purpose of AEPi and Greek life.

Greek life is a training ground for challenges awaiting after graduation. Managing a chapter’s finances introduces brothers to the realities of money management they’ll see as entrepreneurs and board members of nonprofits. Corralling brothers to organize and participate in a chapter philanthropy event is a better introduction to project management than they’ll learn about in any business class.

But the real benefits of Greek life are seen years after brothers have moved out of the mold infested fraternity house basements. They are seen five years after graduation, when a friend helps a fraternity brother hunt for a job. They are seen when the former house manager cooks a brisket after work for a fraternity brother whose wife is undergoing chemo. The value of AEPi becomes apparent when 15 fraternity members travel to a dying steel town in Northeast Ohio for the funeral of a brother who never had the opportunity to toss his graduation cap with his pledge class.

In a recent email to active members AEPi executive director Andy Borans told members that “Hazing does not work, it is immoral, it is illegal, and it will stop.” But the lure of hazing is endemic in fraternity culture. When AEPi is resurrected at UPenn and BU, I’m sure the next generation will be tempted to haze. Let’s hope that the future leaders at BU and UPenn, and current brothers with mixed up priorities, realize the real benefits of a fraternity, so they can reap the benefits years after graduation.

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