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UChicago Frat’s Leaked Emails Are Super Racist and Sexist

At the University of Chicago, Alpha Epsilon Pi joins the ranks of other frats that have been caught doing and saying some incredibly racist things. In a stream of leaked emails from the historically Jewish fraternity, members referred to Muslim students as “terrorists,” defend the n-word, and made plans to celebrate Martin Luther King Day by day drinking and eating at a fried chicken restaurant.

BuzzFeed News released the emails on Wednesday. A fraternity member who wished to remain anonymous turned in some of the emails, which were sent to the AEPi chapter listserv between 2011 and 2015. AEPi is a 102-year old fraternity whose heritage is rooted in young Jewish men coming together for the “future of the American Jewish community.” According to the chapter’s website, membership is “non-discriminatory.”

It didn’t seem so “non-discriminatory,” in AEPi’s released emails, which range from plain ignorance to thinly masked racism. Here’s some of the (troubling) highlights from the emails, or you can check out the full list here.

Day drinking and fried chicken for MLK Day?

Apparently, the prohibition was the reason why Martin Luther King Jr. took a stand in the civil rights era—or at least that’s what one fraternity member claimed. In his email, he said, “Following the horrors of prohibition, the puritanical powers in control of the United States successfully stigmatized day drinking. This travesty flavored American life in many ways, leading to increases in domestic abuse, legitimate rape, and worst of all oppression. MLK took a stand. He had a dream. He led a million man march on Washington in order to make his dream a reality.”

After that totally weird and plain wrong take on U.S. History (letgitimate rape?), the frat brother planned an odd celebration for the day: they would day drink starting at 9 AM and then eat dinner at a fried chicken restaurant. After those festivities, they planned to watch Black Dynamite, which spoofs Blaxploitation movies. News flash: This is not what MLK Day is about.

Some members think all Muslims are terrorists

There were a number of emails that reeked of Islamophobia. In an email from 2014, one member referred to a Muslim woman in the university’s Student Government as a “terrorist.”

Another email in 2013 went even further. The University of Chicago hosts an annual Latke-Hamantash debate, where students jokingly compare latkes and hamantashens. These two foods were described as staples of Jewish culture. In an email, the fraternity whipped up a mock invitation to the event for the Muslim Students Organization. In the email, frat members suggested that they debate over two Muslim “staples”—dynamite and C-4 explosives.

To add to the anti-Muslim sentiments, the fraternity event referred to an empty lot next to the fraternity’s building as Palestine.

A defense for the n-word

In an email in 2011, a brother asked the chapter not to use his nickname, which contained the n-word. He said that the nickname was funny, but also “very, very racist.”

Instead of listening to his requests, other members defended using the word. One response said, “By calling it the ‘n word’ you are giving it power that it doesn’t deserve.” And while context does matter, white fraternity brothers are absolutely not allowed to use the n-word.

The fraternity also used the term “community” in several emails to refer to all members of the black community. In reference to an upcoming rap concert, one brother referred to the music as “rap/hip-hop/community music.”

Brothers who lived on the third floor of their building came up with their own “Constitution”…and it’s pretty awful.

The document, named the “Floor Three Constitution” appeared to set up rules for dating for the frat brothers. One of the so-called rules said, “No fatties.” Another part of the “Constitution” read, “If a dude is trying to mack it with some bitch then don’t fucking interrupt or get in the way.”

As if the way to a woman’s heart is to refer to her as “some bitch,” right?

Response to the leak

Jonathan Pierce, the national fraternity’s spokesperson, said, “As a Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi is especially sensitive to hate speech and behavior towards any minorities.” Pierce confirmed that the fraternity’s organization had already begun an official investigation into the chapter’s emails.

The University of Chicago also denounced the comments within the emails. In an interview with BuzzFeed News, the dean of students, Michele Rasmussen, said, “The language used in these private emails is offensive, and it is not consistent with the University’s values or our strong commitment to ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives can thrive on our campus.”

On Thursday, the executive director of AEPi made a statement on the emails, saying, “I was personally appalled when I saw the personal emails distributed by members of our chapter at the University of Chicago. Hate speech like this is completely antithetical to the Jewish values of Alpha Epsilon Pi.”

The president of AEPi at UChicago, Josh Benadiva, also wrote to the UChicago community, condemning the emails. He said the fraternity has asked for more resources from the university to create better educational programs.

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Bridget Higgins

U Mass Amherst

Bridget is a senior Journalism major focusing on political journalism at UMass Amherst. She interned for the HC editorial team, writes columns for the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, and occasionally gets a freelance article or two on sailing published by Ocean Navigator Magazine. When she isn't greeting random puppies on the street, she loves to cook for her friends, perpetuate her coffee addiction, and spend too much time crafting Tweets. She is also an avid fan of chocolate anything and unnecessary pillows. If you want to know more about Bridget, follow her on Instagram - @bridget_higgins - or Twitter - @bridgehiggins