This Fraternity's Racist Leaked Emails Will Make Your Blood Boil

February 4th 2016

Laura Donovan

A fraternity at the University of Chicago is facing nationwide scrutiny after a massive email leak from the chapter listserv turned up lots of racist and bigoted messages, according to media reports this week.


A brother in the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity released a string of offensive emails to BuzzFeed News out of frustration with the group's “toxic culture.” The messages, which went out to the fraternity's listserv, span from 2011 to 2015 and were sent to active members and alumni. The emails attack Black people, Muslims, and Palestine. One message from summer 2011 includes a fraternity brother saying that while it's "very very funny" that his nickname has the "n" word in it, the word is also "very very racist" and shouldn't be used. The brother requested others not to use his nickname in front of others, on social media, or in emails, unless of course they needed to "satisfy [their] inner klansman," a reference to the white supremacist group, the Ku Klux Klan. A fellow brother responded by claiming that people empower the "n" word by being afraid to say it:

Fraternity email leak

In the bizarre slew of responses, and in an email sent out in December 2014, a brother asked if the fraternity could change the acronym for newly initiated members (NIBS) to NIGS.

Fraternity leaked emails

The brother who gave BuzzFeed News the emails also said that the fraternity referred to Black people as "community members" in emails, a "veiled slur" in the chapter. An April 2013 email from one brother reads, "three young female community members loitering outside yelling. Weird."


"Palestine" is used to described a nearby abandoned lot, the two fixtures of Islamic culture are called "dynamite and C-4” explosives, and a Muslim woman in student government is referred to as a "terrorist" in the emails. In January 2013, one member sent out a Martin Luther King Jr. Day email inviting others to celebrate by eating at a restaurant known for its fried chicken, invoking a subtle stereotype about the Black community:

Fraternity email leak

The fraternity's website is currently under construction, and chapter president Joshua Benadiva has since publicly condemned the exchanges on Facebook. The national fraternity’s spokesperson Jonathan Pierce told BuzzFeed News that the organization is currently investigating the chapter.

Fraternity email leak scandal

"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," Benadiva wrote. "The current Executive Board is doing everything in its power to investigate and confront the individuals of the fraternity who sent these emails. We whole-heartedly condemn this behavior and reaffirm that there is no place for these hateful and bigoted sentiments in our fraternity."

This isn't the first fraternity leaked email scandal to make headlines. Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel came under fire in 2014 when crude emails from his Stanford University days were published online, including a message he sent that reads: "Hope at least six girls sucked your dicks last night."

Evan Spiegel

The Greek system at large has faced immense bad press over the past few years.

Last March, the University of Oklahoma made nationwide news when a video surfaced online of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brothers singing racial slurs on a bus. A few months ago, Indiana University's Alpha Tau Omega fraternity was shut down after a video surfaced of an apparent sexual assault hazing ritual at the house.

In October, University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel warned that Greek life at his institution could fold if fraternities and sororities continue getting into trouble over their behavior.

"It's not my ambition to get rid of fraternities and sororities," Schlissel said at the the Detroit Economic Club during the fall. "There's a tremendous amount of positive they bring to our campus. [But unless] the students moderate some of the risky behavior ... they may naturally wither and people may want to stop joining them."

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