Jewish Frat AEPi Holds Convention As Attemped Rape Case Continues


Just days after Ari Goldstein, the former president of Temple University’s suspended Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) chapter, was formally arraigned on sexual assault charges, approximately 600 students from around the world descended on Phoenix, Arizona, for the 105th Alpha Epsilon Pi International Convention.

At the convention, which runs from Aug. 8-12, participants take part in class sessions that teach them how to combat anti-Semitism and how to deal with the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement that has swept across many universities.

“The purpose of the convention is to give all the Alpha Epsilon members the tools to fight any anti-Semitism or BDS they might face when on campus,” said Jeff Jacobson, AEPi’s newly elected international president.

The annual convention was established to give young men the opportunity to connect and meet other Jewish students from different chapters and schools they normally do not connect with.

On Aug. 11, the fraternity will also introduce Jacobson, who has a background as an attorney and has been involved with Jewish leadership for many years.

“We know there has been an increase in hate crimes and other incidents taking place around many universities over the last few years,” Jacobson noted. “Since the Anti-Defamation League started keeping track of crimes reported, it showed that anti-Semitism attacks were up from 2016 to 2017.”

He added that fraternity members are seeing incidents against Jewish students stemming from anti-Semitism, the BDS movement and anti-Israel sentiment.

Jonathan Pierce, a past international president of the AEPi fraternity and its media spokesman, said teaching leadership is an organization goal.

“First and foremost, Alpha Epsilon Pi is more than just a fraternity,” he said. “We are an organization that is here to teach young Jewish men how to become successful leaders, not only in school, but also outside of the classroom and in their local communities.”  

But in recent years, AEPi has made the news for some unsavory incidents. Various chapters have been reprimanded for bad behavior, including hazing, underage drinking and sexual assault.

According to news reports, allegations of sexual assault have occurred at the College of Charleston, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Vanderbilt University in past years.

In Philadelphia, Temple University suspended its AEPi chapter in April following several reports of underage drinking, excessive use of alcohol, possible drug use and sexual misconduct.

Ari Goldstein | Photo provided

A few weeks after the suspension, authorities took Goldstein into custody at Logan International Airport in Boston. Goldstein is charged with attempted rape, intimidation of a witness/victim, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault, false imprisonment and attempted sexual assault.

At the preliminary hearing on July 19, Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Lydia Kirkland determined there was enough evidence for the case to continue and ordered Goldstein to stand for trial.

Goldstein was formerly arraigned on Aug. 2. The pretrial conference is set for Aug. 14.

A 19-year-old woman testified at the preliminary hearing, where she said that Goldstein had invited her to his room to smoke marijuana with other AEPi members at a party. But when she entered his third-floor bedroom, she found the two were alone. She alleged that Goldstein locked the door, held her down and tried to force her to perform a sex act on him.

In a May interview with the Exponent, Pierce said that AEPi has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault. The fraternity deals with sexual harassment on a case-by-case basis.

The fraternity’s policies on sexual misconduct have not changed over the years, Pierce said, just as the fraternity’s policies around other issues of misconduct, such as hazing, have not changed. There has, though, been an increased focus on the issue of sexual harassment and assault over the years. This programming addresses the issue by defining sexual assault and harassment and explaining both the law and the university’s policies.

The fraternity’s policies and expectations for the behavior of its members gets reiterated throughout the students’ time at AEPi, Pierce said, including at the annual conventions.

“We tell people all the time, ‘You should not do bad things,’” Pierce said. “Maybe today we need to define that a little better and a little bit more frequently. We’re still expecting people to behave in a certain way, but we need to make sure they understand that with perfect clarity.”; 215-832-0729


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