Students Found Campus Branch of National Jewish Fraternity AEPi

It's still a far cry from Animal House, but since the inception of randomization, Harvard has increasingly been going Greek.

While final clubs are still on top in terms of membership and property ownership, fraternities are gaining a foothold.

Citing a quest for "community," a group of undergraduates founded the newest Greek group this fall, starting up a branch of the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).

The new fraternity joins Sigma Chi, which has recently become a campus presence. Founded in 1989 by four first-years, Sigma Chi now claims 35 members.

AEPi's founders say they aspire to similar success, looking to provide Jewish men with opportunities for socialization, community service and recreation.

But other members of the Jewish community say they believe Hillel and its Men's Group already provide such an outlet, while remaining within the umbrella of the College, which refuses to recognize fraternities.

Building Community

Founded in 1913 at New York University, according to fraternity literature, AEPi aims to "provide the opportunity for a Jewish man to be able to join with other men into a Jewish organization whose purpose is not specifically religious, but rather social and cultural in nature."

Students involved with AEPi say that is exactly what they are looking for at Harvard.

"I was interested in a good way to meet Jewish guys...it's a great way to get together, have fun and help the community," says Benjamin Z. Galper '02, a newly initiated member of AEPi. "At the initiation they gave us pledge pins, and went over what the frat is about. They talked about getting together with other frats and a sense of community that is connected to the rest of your life."

Leaders of AEPi say they hope to create a tight-knit group by organizing regular dinners and athletic events.

"We want to promote leadership skills and growth within our members," says AEPi President Mark G. Heiman '00.

The group, which claims a membership of about 20, is looking to become a full-fledged chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi International. The fraternity has chapters at local colleges including MIT and Brandeis University.

"Right now we are a colony, we have to prove that we can be trusted with the AEPi name. We'll have to organize a leadership or service project. We're also supposed to be involved with athletics of some sort," Heiman says.

A Place at the College