AEPi Fosters Greek and Jewish Life
Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 00:01
When I came to Georgetown just 14 months ago, two of the things furthest from my mind were: 1) joining a fraternity and 2) socializing with Jewish guys. I figured that by having come to a school like Georgetown, I had avoided the stereotypical exclusivity, hazing and endless beer guzzling associated with fraternities. Likewise, I didn't expect to find too many of my Jewish brethren at a school that features crucifixes in the majority of its classrooms.
Don't get me wrong: Coming from a menially Jewish area in Upstate New York, I classified myself simply as culturally Jewish - and even then that was a stretch. I mean, I had a bar mitzvah - the Jewish coming of age ceremony at age 13 - and observed the major Jewish holidays, but I was far from a regular at my local synagogue since religion was never a central focus of my youth. Thus, having Jewish friends was not a staple in my life before Georgetown anyway.
Yet when one comes to Georgetown as a Jew, there may be some qualms: Will the Catholic majority ostracize me? Will my Problem of God professor encourage me to convert? These concerns, as well as the natural uneasiness of being in a dramatically new environment, encourage you to revert to things that seem familiar. So off I went to a post-NSO Ice Cream Social at the Jewish Students Association House.
There I began to hear about a Jewish fraternity. "I thought there were no fraternities at Georgetown."
Ah, the standard response that I now hear to this day. Yes, technically, there are no fraternities here at Georgetown. Ask any university official, and they will most likely tell you that Alpha Phi Omega represents the full spectrum of Greek Life on this campus. Yet, as I was quickly finding out, this was not necessarily the case. AEPi is not officially affiliated with the university - we do not have a house in Georgetown, we do not receive university support nor are we subject to university club rules.
Whatever the circumstances, I was soon a rush, then a pledge and then a brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, a national Jewish fraternity with chapters at over 110 schools. Founded by the dedication of 21 young men in the spring of 2001, Georgetown's Alpha Epsilon Pi has made meaningful steps in the promotion of Greek and Jewish social life on campus. Having added 16 new Hoyas last fall and with an additional 20 waiting in the wings this semester, the "J-Frat," as we are affectionately known, is continuously growing and has established itself as a force on the Georgetown social map. (Speaking of which, despite our widespread recognition as the "J-Frat," the brothers of AEPi wish for us be known at Georgetown as "AEPi." Not only is this because we do have non-Jewish members of our organization, but also because we find the term "J-Frat" disrespectful to both our religion and our Greek letters.)
This Saturday evening, the Eta Sigma Colony of AEPi (fittingly, the Greek Letters of Eta and Sigma correspond to the letters "H" and "S" and thus "Hoya Saxa") is being granted a charter from the national organization of Alpha Epsilon Pi. While the receipt of a charter seems minimal - indeed, it will have little effect on the day-to-day operations of AEPi at Georgetown - the fact that an international Jewish fraternity is fully recognizing a chapter at the preeminent Jesuit university in America cannot be overstated. What many believed to be an ill-conceived notion just 18 months ago has now officially established itself as a permanent feature on this campus. While many Hoyas may know AEPi best for our weekend social events, the brothers of AEPi are committed to contributing to Georgetown in any way possible. The fraternity is involved in intramural sports, conducts regular Jewish Heritage events and participates in philanthropic activities on campus and throughout the District. On Nov. 8, AEPi is working together with on-campus groups on a clothing drive known as the "Underwear Run" to raise money and clothes for a D.C. shelter. In addition, the brothers of AEPi serve on numerous on-campus activities. We are officers of the JSA, Model U.N., the GUSA Assembly, NSO, Students for Middle East Peace, GERMS, the Georgetown Israel Alliance, running for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and producing shows for GUTV. More importantly, AEPi has become an effective recruiting tool by helping to promote the Jewish environment at this university.
Prospective Jewish students need no longer look at Georgetown with fear that they will not find their niche here. On Saturday night, the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi will achieve a milestone that many thought would never come to be. The student body of Georgetown will likewise have reached a crucial juncture in our social development. Through both toleration and open-mindedness, this community has proven that minority groups with somewhat radical ideas can and will forge meaningful social progress at this prestigious university. We the brothers of Alpha Epsilon Pi are proud to be associated with Georgetown, and we truly appreciate the support and fanfare we have received in our nascent stages. May this persist as AEPi continues to grow in future years.
Michael Glick is a sophomore in the College.