Efforts are being made by a committee at Florida A&M’s School of the Environment to bring the fraternity Epsilon Eta to the university.
For students interested in pursuing careers in environmental science and sustainability, Epsilon Eta, sometimes called Ep Eta, is a professional gender-inclusive fraternity. It’s the first national environmental fraternity in the United States, founded in 2006 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The fraternity has expanded to include chapters all around the country.
According to the Alpha Chapter of Epsilon Eta Environmental Honors Society, the fraternity’s goals are to “foster awareness of the intrinsic relationship between people and their environment through academics, the community, and service” and to “create a networking environment that enables members to utilize the society as a means to enhance their actions as stewards of the environment.”
The drive to introduce Epsilon Eta to the school is being spearheaded by Queriah Simpson, a doctoral candidate at the School of the Environment.
“I’ve already discussed with the original founders, which were at UNC Chapel Hill, and they sent over their constitution and bylaws that we can use to start building the fraternity on our campus,” Simpson said. “I am currently in the process of getting the paperwork done to submit to become an official organization at FAMU.”
Simpson is a member of the non-profit group Black in Marine Science, where he serves as program director. It initially motivated Simpson to introduce the fraternity to the school. Simpson said that through working with the organization the benefits of organizing and creating a community were made abundantly clear.
Simpson touched on the disconnect the School of the Environment has with the rest of the university. Simpson not only explained the importance of the environment, but also the benefits of bringing the fraternity to campus which would help bring awareness to understanding the importance of the environment.
“There’s people on the campus that don’t know how they affect the environment and how the environment affects them. No matter who or what you are, we are a part of the environment,” Simpson said.
The committee tasked with bringing the fraternity to the university has gained Valarie Harrigan, a third-year environmental science major, as an additional member who manages undergraduate student representation.
Harrigan says the fraternity could open doors for students in environmental science.
“We already have collaborations with government organizations such as NOAA and the Department of Energy and these partnerships will provide many opportunities for students,” Harrigan said.
In addition, Harrigan stressed the value of the School of the Environment having a fraternity in helping it “get more recognition” and providing a space for students to learn more about the field through contacts and experience in case they are unsure about their desired career path.
Currently, Epsilon Eta is only at predominately white institutions. Harrigan suggested that since FAMU would be the first HBCU to introduce the fraternity, there might be a “genuine domino effect,” inspiring other HBCUs to take similar action.
Introducing Epsilon Eta to the School of the Environment will certainly emphasize the importance of having a community for students to flourish and cultivate meaningful relationships.