CHICAGO (AP) — The University of Chicago and leaders of Alpha Epsilon Pi on Thursday, February 4, condemned emails circulated by members of the fraternity that contained racist and other insulting language.
According to officials, emails that circulated from 2011 to 2015 contained a racial slur referring to blacks, disparaged an event celebrating Martin Luther King Day and referred to a female Muslim student as a “terrorist.” The emails were obtained by BuzzFeed, which posted some excerpts.
It’s the latest in a string of racial incident involving members of Greek organizations in recent years. Last year, the University of Oklahoma banned the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and expelled two students after members were caught on video doing a racist chant. In March 2015, a University of Maryland student resigned from the Kappa Sigma fraternity after being suspended after a 2014 email containing racially and sexually suggestive language about black, Indian and Asian women was made public. And in December 2014, Sigma Alpha Epsilon was forced to suspend activity at Clemson University after white students dressed as gang members at a “Cripmas” party.
In a message sent to University of Chicago students Thursday, vice president Karen Warren Coleman said the sentiments expressed in the Alpha Epsilon Pi emails are “unacceptable, violate the university’s core values, and conflict with our strong commitment to ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can thrive on our campus.”
The fraternity’s executive director, Andrew Borans, said as a Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi “is especially sensitive to hate speech and behavior toward any minorities.” The fraternity was founded in 1913.
On its Facebook page, the University of Chicago chapter expressed sorrow that it “was ever a safe haven for the kind of vitriol you have now all seen.”
Josh Benadiva, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi at the University of Chicago, also said he and the chapter leaders plan to investigate and confront fraternity members who sent the emails.
“To our friends who feel hurt, betrayed, or let down, we ask for an opportunity to regain your trust and confidence,” he said in a statement.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations called for an investigation of the fraternity and its emails and a review of how the university deals with such incidents.
“The comments made by members of this fraternity against Muslims and African-Americans are deplorable and do not belong anywhere in the vicinity of higher education,” said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the organization’s Chicago chapter.
The university has pointed out that fraternities and sororities aren’t recognized student organizations at the school, saying they are considered off-campus, independent groups.