AEPi votes to lose University recognition

The chapter decided to become de-recognized rather than accepting OFSA sanctions for violating University policy

· April 20, 2012, 4:46 pm   ·  Updated April 23, 2012, 11:32 pm

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Following hazing activities, Penn’s Gamma Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi has voted to relinquish its charter as a University-recognized fraternity, Office of Student Affairs/Fraternity Sorority Life Director Scott Reikofski wrote in an email statement Friday afternoon.

According to Reikofski, the chapter was found recently to have violated University policy. He wrote that it “voted to close voluntarily rather than accept responsibility for the violations and comply with sanctions developed in partnership between the University and the Alpha Epsilon Pi International Fraternity Office.”

College sophomore and AEPi President Joe Egozi, along with more than 30 current and former fraternity brothers contacted over the weekend, declined to comment.

According to Reikofski, given AEPi’s decision, the AEPi International Fraternity Office has also rescinded the chapter’s charter and will be overseeing the fraternity’s move out of its chapter house at 4035 Walnut St., which will take place at the end of the semester.

Executive Director of AEPi Andrew Borans wrote in a statement that “after learning of hazing activities more than a month ago, we began to work cooperatively with the University administration to find a proper course of sanctions and teaching opportunities to put our chapter back on track. This process began when the International Fraternity removed from office the chapter leadership who oversaw the inappropriate activities.”

Reikofski did not respond to requests for comment over the weekend about the specific nature of the fraternity’s hazing violations.

“We are extraordinarily disappointed by Gamma Chapter’s decision and actions,” Reikofski wrote. “Gamma Chapter has a proud 93-year history of providing a high-quality brotherhood experience to generations of Penn men…. Those efforts, however, do not give members license to violate University policy.”

College junior and Interfraternity Council President David Shapiro said the University’s proposed sanctions on AEPi were the result of “a lot of different factors,” among which included a pledging task earlier this year that involved a scavenger hunt.

Shapiro added that AEPi plans to move off campus next year as a pseudo-Greek organization. Pseudo-Greek organizations — such as Theos and OZ — are those that are not recognized by the University and are unaffiliated with Penn’s Greek community as a whole.

Other fraternities in the past — such as Phi Gamma Delta in 1999 — have voted to relinquish their charter on their own accord. However, Shapiro said Friday’s announcement is the first he has heard of a chapter voluntarily choosing to become de-recognized by the University while also establishing an off-campus presence.

“I was pretty disappointed,” he said. “AEPi is one of our larger chapters. They have a strong brotherhood that’s very involved around campus, so the fact that they kind of chose to turn their back on the community is a little upsetting.”

According to OFSA data from Jan. 27, AEPi issued 19 bids this year — all of which were accepted.

While AEPi has consistently been one of the University’s strongest academic performing chapters in terms of average GPA, it does have a rocky history at Penn, particularly in recent decades.

In 1994, following a pledging incident which resulted in a member being hospitalized, the University placed AEPi on pledge probation for two years, according to Daily Pennsylvanian archives.

Then, in 1998, the fraternity was forced to go dry for two years following a non-fatal alcohol poisoning of a female freshman.

In 2005, members of AEPi had to relocate when their University-owned house at 3940 Spruce St. was found to have significant structural damage to its front wall and foundation. At the time, many fraternity brothers expressed displeasure over Penn’s management of the house and OFSA’s handling of the situation.

“I think they have struggled at [Penn] to find a good spot and a good home,” 1981 Engineering graduate and AEPi brother Doug Howell said.

Howell added that he was disappointed to hear of Friday’s news.

“I think the entire fraternity system makes a positive contribution to the University, and I would have been sad to see any chapter go,” he said. “AEPi was a big part of my life for the four years I was there.”

Shapiro predicted that within the next four or five years, there is a “very good chance” that AEPi could return to campus. However, he stressed that “usually the University likes to wait until everybody from the past [Greek] organization has graduated” to begin discussions about a possible re-formation.

Borans, too, left an open door for a possible return.

Though “the decision to close our chapter at the University of Pennsylvania was not made lightly,” he said, “we are confident that Alpha Epsilon Pi will return to the University of Pennsylvania campus in the near future and once again assume our place as a leading fraternity on campus dedicated to leadership, education and bettering our community.”

Aditi Srinivas contributed reporting to this article.

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