HYDE PARK — The Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at the University of Chicago is under investigation and has publicly apologized after a series of racist emails from fraternity brothers were leaked.
On Wednesday, Buzzfeed released three years of emails from 2011 to 2014 from the Jewish fraternity’s listserv that include racist nicknames for fraternity brothers that included the n-word, calling a leader of a Muslim student group a "terrorist" and references to the vacant lot next to the fraternity house at 6105 S. University Ave. as “Palestine.”
Leadership of the fraternity have quickly apologized for the emails and promised an investigation.
“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,” said chapter President Josh Benadiva in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “The current executive board is doing everything in its power to investigate and confront the individuals of the fraternity who sent these emails.”
Many of the most egregious emails, which included mocking Martin Luther King Jr. with an all-day drinking event that ended with a meal of fried chicken, date to 2013.
It’s unclear whether the posters, who remain anonymous in the leaked emails, are still members of the fraternity or are still students at the university.
The fraternity’s website was replaced with a public apology on Thursday that implied that many of the authors of the emails were no longer actively part of the fraternity.
“It would be easy to try and remove ourselves from responsibility, to say that this was a few brothers or that it happened in the past,” reads the fraternity’s apology. “Such a defense, however, would be as deceptive as it is reprehensible.”
In the letter, the fraternity says it has amended its constitution to take a zero tolerance stance against “racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia or other forms of hateful actions or speech, whether spoken or written.”
The fraternity has also instituted sensitivity training for all new members and current pledges have already been through the training.
The fraternity will also hold a series of forums at the university to discuss the issues and how the group can regain the trust of the community.
“We also want this to be the beginning of a dialogue on campus about how to improve Greek life as a whole,” the apology says.
The peak of the offensive remarks happened in 2013, a time when the campus was dealing with other pranks by fraternities with racial undertones.
In June 2013, Phi Delta Theta received a package addressed to “Reggin Toggaf,” a racial and homophobic slur if read backwards, that it believed at the time was sent by another fraternity on campus.
More recently, an argument between Muslim and Jewish organizations at the university escalated in October and included posters that read “Stabbing Jews for Peace” being posted around campus.
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