Letter to AEPi National Organization, former brothers of AEPi at Tufts University

As a Brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (1954 Initiation) and a former Chapter Advisor (Recipient of Certificate of Appreciation 1995) to AEPi at Tufts, I was greatly disturbed to read the Jan. 30 article, “A Message to the Tufts community from the former members of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity,” in the Tufts Daily. As the late Larry Glick, a well-known Boston radio station WBZ personality used to say: “There is always a story behind the story.” That being said, I think that the leadership of AEPi at Tufts University owes an explanation to both its former members and the Tufts community as to why it has undertaken such a drastic step. 

In their letter they claim that their long-time goals do not align with those of the National Organization. The original Mission Statement of the Alpha Epsilon Fraternity clearly states why it was conceived and what it seeks to accomplish. Simply put, the goal of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity is the nurturing and subsequent development of mature, responsible members of the world of today. I recognize that the college experience as well as the campus scene of today differs greatly from the days of my own undergraduate experience as well as those of my time as the Chapter Advisor (1985 – 1995). Changing social mores and the impact of social media have affected daily life in so many ways, most noticeably in matters of civility, integrity and honesty. The Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, in its Ritual of Initiation, seeks to imbue the candidate with those timeless values that are the hallmark of a just society. Consider the opening paragraph in the Alpha Epsilon Pi Mission Statement:

“Alpha Epsilon Pi was founded to provide opportunities for the Jewish college man seeking the best possible college and fraternity experience. We have maintained the integrity of our purpose by strengthening our ties to the Jewish community and serving as a link between high school and career.” 

When I became a Brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity it was indeed an all Jewish organization. Over time it became less so as more and more non-Jewish men were accepted into the fraternity. I am of the opinion that if today’s mission statement were changed by replacing every occurrence of the word “Jewish” with a word suggestive of a more secular nature, then clearly the goals of the Eta Deuteron Chapter of AEPI at Tufts University would be brought into compliance with those of the national organization, and hence there would be no need to do something as drastic as disassociation. Consider the following a possible revision of the original mission statement to bring it into compliance with today’s reality where the word “Jewish” has been replaced by another word in italics to call your attention to the suggested change.

Yours in Brotherhood,

Benjamin J. Cohen

Benjamin J. Cohen (A57/61) is a Tufts Alumni and former Brother and Chapter Advisor to AEPI at Tufts University. He can be reached for comment at zelda_c@verizon.net.

Alpha Epsilon Pi Mission Statement – Revised

Alpha Epsilon Pi was founded to provide opportunities for the average college man seeking the best possible college and fraternity experience. We have maintained the integrity of our purpose by strengthening our ties to the secular community and serving as a link between high school and career.

Our heritage stems from one source: young college age men banding together in allegiance. The role of Alpha Epsilon Pi has expanded since its inception in 1913. Initially, the fraternity served as a brotherhood of young men who came from similar religious backgrounds and who had experienced the same prejudices against their religious beliefs. Alpha Epsilon Pi soon broadened its role to include serving as the living quarters for some of its members. The fraternity became a home away from home, providing the same stabilizing and guiding values that students previously gained from their families. Armed with these values, Alpha Epsilon Pi faced changing conditions on the college campus and survived. Today, college students search out Alpha Epsilon Pi because it is an exceptional Fraternity. In the fraternity’s 100-year history, over 93,000 men have worn the badge of Alpha Epsilon Pi and each year, over 2,500 undergraduates perform the Ritual of Initiation, which remains the same ritual adopted decades ago.

Perhaps of greater importance, Alpha Epsilon Pi develops leadership for the future of the global society. Tomorrow’s world leaders are in our chapters today. These are the young men who must be counted upon to support worthwhile causes and to prepare to be one of tomorrow’s world leaders, so that they may aid themselves, their family, their community and their people. Those students who enter the mainstream of secular life on the campus are far more likely to assimilate and to forsake their heritage. Alpha Epsilon Pi can play a vital role in helping reverse the growing trend among our young people to abandon their cultural heritage at this critical time.

Throughout our history, the fraternity setting has served as a “learning laboratory,” a testing ground for young men who later become leaders in business, education, government, religion, and science. A goal of our fraternity is to help each student to develop character, to learn responsibility and to develop a proper set of values through living together in brotherhood. Alpha Epsilon Pi prepares young men for their role in life as responsible citizens.