The Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) is investigating multiple reports that on April 22, students of the Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) fraternity, which mainly consists of Jewish members, faced harassment due to their Jewish identity from yet-to-be-identified individuals, according to a University-wide email.
In a statement to The Daily Targum, AEPi said the harassment occurred after a rally was held earlier in the day on the steps of Brower Commons on the College Avenue campus by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organization at Rutgers.
“A while after the rally on (the College Avenue campus), three cars were driving around in circles around the house playing loud music and waving Palestinian flags while parking at the front of the house,” the statement said. “None of the brothers were outside while they came, and some brothers went outside after hearing the loud noises. When some brothers came outside to see what was going on, they were spat on and yelled at with antisemitic slurs.”
As the fraternity members urged the protesters to leave, they continued to drive around the area of the house until an RUPD officer forced the protesters in the cars to stop, the statement said.
On Wednesday, SJP released a statement that said that none of the individuals who appeared outside of the fraternity house were involved with Rutgers or the organization itself and that the organization does not welcome individuals who engage in antisemitic or hateful behavior.
“We join the myriad voices in unequivocal opposition to antisemitism and all forms of racism and violence,” the statement said. “For this reason, we have conducted our own inquiries into the actions that took place and can confirm that none of the individuals involved are students at Rutgers—New Brunswick. The actions conducted were lone acts by individuals that have no formal or informal affiliation to our organization.”
Though, the organization alternatively said in the statement that members of AEPi attended the SJP rally and used slurs and Islamophobic rhetoric and attempted to start physical altercations with the protestors. The statement also said the members have acquired video footage of this happening.
AEPi said in its statement to the Targum that the members of the fraternity believe the statement released by SJP is inaccurate because the members did not interact with the protestors before they went to the house. The statement said the members also have video footage of the incident.
SJP declined to provide an additional statement to the Targum regarding the incident.
AEPi also said in the statement that members of the fraternity have been targeted at Rutgers because of their Jewish affiliation numerous times and that antisemitism is a prevalent issue on campus.
The statement said that instances of the members being targeted have included being called antisemitic slurs when leaving the Chabad house on the College Avenue campus. As a result, many members have avoided wearing any Jewish jewelry, such as the Star of David, to avoid such instances.
“AEPi has been targeted for two years in a row by getting egged on its national Holocaust memorial day event, where brothers read the names of Holocaust victims murdered,” the statement said. “People throwing eggs at the house, especially at that time for two years in a row, proves that Rutgers has an antisemitism problem which puts the Jewish population of the University at risk.”
At the end of the statement, AEPi said the members of the fraternity want to see the University provide a plan of action for cultural education in order to move away from the existing issue of antisemitism on campus as they believe it is rooted in a misunderstanding of different religions and values.