Our members come from various backgrounds, but each and every one has decided to join an organization whose mission is to Develop Leadership for the Jewish Community. Education and programs stress the need for strong Jewish identity by connecting Jewish concepts such as Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Tikkun Midot (improving our character) with the activities that chapters engage in. The question that we help students answer for themselves is, “How do we live and lead Jewishly?” We prepare students to be leaders in the Jewish community.
You may have heard the cliche about fraternity members “buying their friends.” Nothing is further from the truth. Like any organization, there are bills to pay and costs of membership, but this is also the case with synagogues, youth groups, garden clubs, and health clubs too!
AEPi fees are mostly set by the undergraduates. When a student becomes a new member, there is a fee paid to the international organization that covers the cost of the fraternity pin, certificate, and other items. This cost (as of spring 2021) is $495. There are also dues and fees that must be paid each academic term to help keep the organization running; without them, the chapters would not receive support and likely could not function. Beyond the portion that goes to the international organization, each chapter sets its own fees.
If your student lives in a fraternity house, there will be room and board fees that are comparable to — and most often less than — residence hall or off-campus housing costs. These costs vary for each chapter, but the total cost is comparable to what room, board, utility, and entertainment costs are for non-Greek students. Every chapter uses a different dues structure and some also use third-party agencies for billing. Be sure your son asks about the mechanics of dues and billing upon joining.
The expenses of being a chapter member will vary from group to group. Chapter dues will be set by the members of each chapter. The national organization does charge a per member fee to each chapter, but membership dues mostly cover expenses for conducting chapter activities.
The time commitment varies by chapter and by the level of involvement a member chooses to have. Members can expect to attend a chapter meeting each week, as well as committee meetings or executive board meetings if taking on a leadership role. Many chapters host various events on a regular basis that members wish to attend. That said, most members are involved in a number of other activities around campus, have jobs, maintain friendships outside of the fraternity, and have hobbies. It is up to members to manage their time and decide how active they wish to be in fraternity life.
This is a common concern for students and families as portrayal of fraternity life in the media is often less than flattering. In the real world, though, it is important for you to know that hazing and illegal activities are prohibited by Alpha Epsilon Pi. Our health and safety policies are extremely clear and each member agrees to abide by these policies. All members are also provided with robust educational resources upon joining the organization, and leadership goes through mandatory training each year. If you ever suspect your son or anyone else may have been hazed (or harassed), please let us know.
Even though it is often depicted in movies or TV, no organized fraternity or university will condone hazing. Most fraternities and universities have a zero tolerance policy on hazing and will quickly and thoroughly investigate any claim of hazing on campus. Greek groups know how dangerous hazing is and have rejected hazing in any part of their pledging or initiation process. Each organization and university will have online resources regarding their individual policies on dealing with hazing in Greek life. You can read our health and safety policy here.
Many AEPi chapters maintain residential facilities of some sort. These facilities vary widely in style and cost. They may be informal private rental homes that members rent and the chapter uses for meetings, university housing, or houses that are operated by an AEPi house corporation. If the chapter maintains a chapter facility, your student will likely be expected to live in it for at least one year.
In locations where chapters maintain official recognized housing provided by or through a house corporation, members are expected to live in the facility, regardless of seniority, until the house is otherwise filled to capacity.
Living in a chapter house is a once in a lifetime opportunity that can be formative for an individual member. A chapter house is far more than just a place to live. It is an immersive educational environment where one learns to more effectively work as a team, build strong relationships, and manage through conflict. In Alpha Epsilon Pi, we find that it also offers the experience of a Jewish home away from home. Chapter houses also often offer the first tenant experience for our members. If the chapter house is provided by an AEPi-recognized house corporation, efforts are made to provide clear expectations, education, and communication that make the first experience as a tenant a positive experience.
Many factors contribute to the ability to provide housing to our members, including the age or stability of a chapter, zoning, economics, and availability. The fraternity’s goals are to provide competitive housing opportunities commensurate with the campus environment whenever possible. Members on some campuses may find that fraternity housing is not part of their campus landscape and that chapters at their school offer a non-residential experience. This is very common on urban campuses or at small schools. At other campuses we simply have not had the opportunity to obtain housing or have been unable to afford an acquisition.
Yes! Chapters encourage their members to participate in other campus programs, sports, and clubs. Students often find out about other activities on campus through their Greek peers. This kind of participation is also a good way to reach other potential members and show involvement and pride in the college. The great part about being Greek is often having others with whom a member can join new clubs or intramural sports.
Each Greek organization has its own national membership network that can help with job hunting after graduation. Career advice and job information are available from other members in these Greek networks. A member of a Greek organization will be welcomed by that group on any university campus and can typically join an alumni group for their organization in any city in which they live. Greek life is not just for a student’s college years; it’s for life!
That depends. While Greek life does offer enjoyment of life on campus, representation of Greek life in movies and on TV is often exaggerated (e.g., Animal House or House Bunny). Greek life is about experiencing academic and social balance along with service and professional networking. Greek students work hard and enjoy their time together, and they know when it is the right time to do either.
Greek life emphasizes academics, and an organization’s members will support the others in their academic work. Chapters will often have study sessions, or offer incentives for reaching a certain GPA or doing well on an exam. The best part of being in any diverse organization is that there will likely be someone to help with any academic subject. It’s often possible in an organization to find other members who have taken the same course from the same professor. Academic success reflects well on a Greek organization, so its members feel responsible for their own academics.
Like most things in life, one gets out whatever they put into their Greek organization. The first year in a Greek chapter will involve taking some time to learn about its history, organization, and membership. Participating in activities to get to know other members is a good way to enjoy the benefits of Greek life, as well as meet new people. After the first year, students have usually figured out how much time they can put into the group without sacrificing their other commitments. During the remaining years on campus, a student can choose to participate more in their organization. This often means taking on leadership roles in their chapter.
Greek organizations are a great way for students to make an easier transition into college from home, parents, and high school friends. For most students, Greek life becomes a home away from home. It becomes a place where close, lifelong friendships are created. Most of these groups emphasize leadership, scholarship, service, and fellowship among other important values.
This may be the first organization that your student belongs to where you, as a parent, are not receiving direct communications about your student’s extracurricular activities. It is also very likely to be the first time that your student is a member or leader of an organization that they truly control and where there is no additional approval process before their decision is final.
Although you may not have a day-to-day role in the fraternity itself, you still play a prominent role for your son. It is helpful when you continue to coach your son and guide his development as his parent.