ADL teams up with Jewish frat AEPi on initiative to tackle antisemitism on college campuses


((JEWISH REVIEW)) — For its latest effort to combat antisemitism on college campuses, the Anti-Defamation League is turning to a particular brand of college student: frat boys.

The Jewish civil rights group is partnering with Alpha Epsilon Pi, the historically Jewish fraternity, on an initiative to engage members of AEPi’s 150 local chapters starting this fall, the two groups announced Monday. They revealed the new initiative — which will include the creation of something called the Antisemitism Response Center — during AEPi’s international convention in New Orleans over the weekend.

One person will be hired to work with the fraternity’s chapters, training members to spot and respond to antisemitism and to advocate for Israel on their campuses, the organizations said.

“Our members are on the front lines of this battle on college campuses,” Rob Derdiger, AEPi’s CEO, said in the press release. “Since AEPi exists in both the Jewish and interfraternity communities on campus, our leaders have an opportunity to educate others about antisemitism and Israel.”

The partnership reflects the ADL’s recent strategy of expanding its reach by collaborating with other groups. Another new campus partnership, with Hillel International, in 2021 yielded a survey finding that a third of college students reported experiencing antisemitism on campus; many of the students who said they felt excluded because of their Jewish identity cited their real or perceived support for Israel.

The two groups have a shared history: Both are marking 110 years in existence this year, and both were formed in response to antisemitic incidents. For the ADL, the catalyst was the Leo Frank case in George that resulted in the United States’ only antisemitic lynching. AEPi launched at New York University after a founding member was told that his Jewish friends were not welcome in an existing fraternity.

“ADL and AEPi were both founded in 1913 in response to antisemitism that had deep impacts on the day-to-day lives of Jews,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “This partnership unites our two historic organizations who share a vision: to confront hatred, combat antisemitism, and promote understanding across our campuses and communities.”