Approximately 600 students from around the world have descended on Phoenix for the 105th Alpha Epsilon Pi International Convention this weekend. During the convention, the young men will take part in class sessions that will teach them how to combat anti-Semitism and how to deal with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has swept across many universities nationwide.
The annual convention was established to give young men the opportunity to connect and meet other Jewish students from different Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) chapters and schools that they normally do not connect with. On Saturday, the fraternity will introduce its newly elected international president, Jeff Jacobson. Jacobson, who is from Tucson and has a background primarily as an attorney, has been involved with Jewish leadership for many years.
Jacobson noted that fraternity members are seeing incidents against Jewish students due to anti-Semitism, the BDS movement and the state of Israel.
“The purpose of the convention is to give all the Alpha Epsilon members the tools to fight any anti-Semitism or BDS they might face when on campus,” Jacobson said
Jonathan Pierce, who handles media relations for AEPi, stated, “First and foremost, Alpha Epsilon Pi is more than just a fraternity, we are an organization that is here to teach young Jewish men how to become successful leaders, not only in school, but also outside of the classroom and in their local communities.”
But in recent years, AEPi has made headlines for some chapter members’ bad behavior. Chapters at universities across the country, such as Penn State, Florida State, University of Michigan and now Ohio State, have faced disciplinary measures for ongoing violations such as hazing, drug use and illegal drinking.
About three years ago, AEPi closed its chapter at Arizona State University after several allegations of misconduct were reported The chapter recently reopened.
In response to these incidents, then AEPi Executive Director Andrew Borans issued a statement on the matter in November 2017.
“We’re risking the future of AEPi, the fraternity system and our own lives,” stated Borans, who is now the CEO of the AEPi Foundation. “We are better than that.
“AEPi is too important to the development of our members and the future of our Jewish communities to risk it for one night of careless, dangerous and, possibly, illegal activities.”
Pierce said chapter presidents are working together to make sure members are following the guidelines that are in place at universities.
“Alpha Epsilon Pi understands that they are working with young men who are in college and that incidents are going to occur from time to time,” Pierce said.
Since AEPi is an international organization, there are different rules and age limits when it comes to the legal drinking age.
As incoming president, Jacobson wants the public to know that he understands how serious hazing incidents are. Especially with young adults in a college environment, Jacobson said, AEPi will continue to work with these men and teach them how to become successful. JN