A new fraternity is now a member of SMU’s Interfraternity Council. SMU’s Alpha Epsilon Pi was started last spring by 10 students. The Jewish fraternity was created in 1913, after many of its founders were not allowed to join other organizations due to Anti-Semitism.
When AEPi President Hunter Rice came to SMU, he believed that Greek life was a big part of SMU culture. Rice originally joined another fraternity in order to seek brotherhood.
“I wanted to join a fraternity because I like the idea of having a brotherhood with guys that I could relate to,” said Rice, a junior.
Rice realized that he needed to find a fraternity that felt like the right fit for him. He believes that AEPi was the answer. Last semester, the group had 15 members. The fraternity hopes to gain more members by the end of the school year.
Out of the 30 Greek organizations on campus, AEPi is the only religion-based organization. Eta Iota Sigma Sorority, Sigma Phi Lambda Sorority, and Beta Upsilon Chi Fraternity are under the University Chaplain’s Office instead of the three Greek life councils.
However, AEPi has a cultural foundation just like the organizations in the Multi-cultural and National Pan-Hellenic Greek Councils.
“There is this unspoken connection that Jewish people have with one another and I think the fact that we can all go into pledge-ship and go into initiation previously having that bond just gives it something special that I feel you can’t find anywhere else,” said Rice.
Rice and his friends believe that there is a market for the fraternity due to SMU’s Jewish population and male students looking for brotherhood. There are more than 1,000 students in IFC fraternities, according to Student Life Coordinator Kevin Saberre Jr.
When founding the organization, Rice and his friends asked SMU for help in order bring AEPi to campus.
“The students came to us with a need, they brought to our attention that in regards to a fraternal experience Jewish men didn’t have anything that was specifically for them here on our campus,” said Saberre.
AEPi’s long term goal is to have enough members and money to have a house on fraternity row. Even though AEPi is a Jewish fraternity, men from all faiths and backgrounds are welcome.