A movement to establish a Dartmouth chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a national Jewish fraternity, gained momentum this week as prospective members held two organizational meetings.
Approximately 20 interested students gathered to elect officer positions Monday night, although the chapter does not yet exist. The group met again Wednesday night to form committees, a step the national AEPi organization requires of its new chapters.
Patrick Karas '08, the newly elected president of Dartmouth's fledgling AEPi chapter, expressed enthusiasm about recent developments. He said AEPi would help fill a hole in Dartmouth's Jewish social scene.
"Right now the only Jewish organizations are Hillel and Chabad," Karas said. "Basically, those are religious based. They also have some social aspects, but AEPi is a social organization. There is no religious requirement. There are a lot of guys on campus who are not religious, and AEPi provides them somewhere to be socially Jewish."
Karas said the new chapter would have to overcome several obstacles as they continue to seek out new members and seek to gain recognition from the College.
"It's hard for an organization like us to start up because the upperclassmen just aren't there, they're already in frats," he said. "There's a lot of freshman interest. We're just trying to get our name out there and create interest. I think there are a lot of people out there who would join if they knew."
This is not the first time that students have expressed interest in bringing AEPi to campus. A similar initiative fizzled out in 2003 when nine students were inducted as pledges of AEPi. At that point, the College still had a moratorium on the creation of new Greek organizations, a restriction that was lifted last spring.
Director of Co-ed, Fraternity and Sorority Administration Deb Carney confirmed that she had been contacted about forming a chapter of AEPi. Carney said she will arrange a meeting with a representative from the group, as she would with anyone else who showed interest in forming a new organization.
"There is a process in place for the creation of new organizations that must be followed," she said.
According to CFS policy, any group seeking College recognition as a CFS organization must demonstrate "the ways in which the group will contribute positively to the CFS community and to the broader campus community."
The regulations state that interested groups must request sponsorship recognition from the CFS governing council. AEPi has not yet requested recognition from the College, but Karas said he plans to arrange that soon.
"My next step is to meet with the dean and get us recognized, at least as an interest group," he said.
Hillel President Elisabeth Sherman '06 declined to comment on the founding of the new AEPi chapter. She said her opinion on the matter might differ from the stance of the Hillel organization as a whole.
Representatives for Alpha Epsilon Pi International did not return requests for comment.