Jewish frat members at U of Chicago sent each other series of Islamophobic, racist emails
Menu JTA Search

Jewish frat members at U of Chicago sent each other series of Islamophobic, racist emails

(JTA) — Members of a Jewish fraternity’s University of Chicago chapter sent numerous Islamophobic, racist and misogynist emails, including one that referred to a Muslim student as a “terrorist,” to each other between 2011 and 2015.

The Alpha Epsilon Pi emails were handed over to Buzzfeed News by an anonymous AEPi member and published Wednesday.

“As a Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi is especially sensitive to hate speech and behavior towards any minorities,” AEPi national spokesman Jonathan Pierce told Buzzfeed News. “Especially during these troubling times of increased anti-Semitism on college campuses, we are very aware of the harm that negative speech towards minority groups can do. We will investigate and, if necessary, work to educate the individual members about this issue.”

The emails — which defended the use of the N-word in a brother’s nickname, called “dynamite and C-4” explosives fixtures of Islamic culture and referred to an abandoned lot near the fraternity house as “Palestine” — were sent on a fraternity-wide email listserv.

“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,” the university’s dean of students, Michele Rasmussen, told Buzzfeed News.

One member proposed a day of drinking, eating at a fried chicken restaurant and watching the film “Black Dynamite,” which parodies other “Blaxploitation” films, during Martin Luther King Day in 2013. Another email chain referred to a Muslim woman who was then involved in student government as a “terrorist.”

The anonymous AEPi brother also revealed a document posted in the fraternity house that outlined dating rules for the house members.

“No fatties,” the document reads, “No one wants to be or be friends with a fat girl f—er.”

The AEPi chapter president, Joshua Benadiva, said he was “disgusted” by the emails in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“We are disgusted by the emails sent to the fraternity listhost in past years, and regret that such hate was ever a part of the discourse in AEPi. The current Executive Board is doing everything in its power to investigate and confront the individuals of the fraternity who sent these emails,” Benadiva wrote. “We whole-heartedly condemn this behavior and reaffirm that there is no place for these hateful and bigoted sentiments in our fraternity.”

Benadiva added that the fraternity had “solicited additional educational resources” from the university on the issue.

Last February, several anti-Semitic posts surfaced in the Facebook group UChicago Secrets, which is made up of anonymous comments from students.

One post read: “I’m laughing hard at these people who are like ‘They Made Me Take Off My Star Of David, I Am So Oppressed.’ Try having soldiers come in and force you out of your home.”

Another read: “People are hypocrites. This is a fact. One example? The Jews at UChicago. Why? They all have grandparents who survived the Holocaust. This doesn’t stop them from denying the Holocaust in Palestine right now.”

The school’s Catholic student center organized interfaith prayer gathering in the wake of the controversy.