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Epsilon Eta, an environmental service fraternity, intends to create a community for environmentally minded people and to educate people about sustainability. | Courtesy of Tyler Sullivan

Credit: Courtesy of Tyler Sullivan

Saving the Earth just got a whole lot more fun.

This fall, nine College sophomores formed Epsilon Eta, Penn’s first environmental fraternity.

The founders met a year ago in a freshman seminar called “Introduction to Environmental Earth Science.” They quickly became friends and started discussing the possibility of creating a formal social group.

“Some of us felt there wasn’t really a big social community within sustainability at Penn,” Epsilon Eta co-president Johanna Matt-Navarro said. “Over the summer, it was brought to our attention that there was an environmental fraternity existing at [the University of North Carolina] and [the University of Michigan]. We did some research and reached out to them.”

In October, the students voted to formally colonize with Epsilon Eta and began the process to become an officially recognized group on campus.

“Our main goal is creating a social space for people who are environmentally minded,” Epsilon Eta co-president John Holmes said. “We’re hoping to create a more general environmental group that allows people to explore different interests in a more social atmosphere.”

Unlike other existing environmental groups on campus, which can be either too large or niche, Epsilon Eta wants to bring a tight-knit group of people with diverse interests together.

“What sets [Epsilon Eta] apart is that it’s going to be a small [group] that will expand with other pledge classes, but never get too big,” College sophomore and Epsilon Eta member Jisoo Kim said. “It will be very personalized.”

Last week, as their first foray into the public eye, the fraternity found itself the subject of an Under The Button article.

“We thought it was hysterical,” Kim said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”

She added that, while obviously meant to be satirical, the article scraped surprisingly close to the truth in some areas.

“There have literally been times where some of the members have been at parties chanting something about recycling.”

However, while Epsilon Eta is classified as a fraternity, its members are quick to clarify that it will be more of a service and education-based group rather than one heavily involved in Penn’s party scene.

“We plan to be more than just green party animals,” Holmes said.

“It’s not just friends hanging out and talking about personal stuff,” Kim added. “It’s also [about] educating each other and doing things that impact people besides us.”

This past weekend, Epsilon Eta hosted its first volunteer event at Bartram’s Garden, where pledge members did garden maintenance work alongside the Penn Environmental Group. The fraternity held board elections on Tuesday, Nov. 17, and appeared before the Student Sustainability Association at Penn on Wednesday to become officially recognized as an environmental group on campus.

Epsilon Eta will host their first social event next Monday, Nov. 23 for anyone interested in sustainability and will register in the coming weeks with the Office of Student Affairs. The fraternity plans to hold rush during this spring.

“Hopefully we will be successful in creating a broader community where more people feel like they have a place to come and discuss things and become more active in the Penn and Philadelphia communities,” Holmes said. “Our goal is to create a group that will remain after we are gone.”

“Sustainability isn’t just about the Earth,” Matt-Navarro said. “Nothing exists alone — everything affects everything else. It’s important to understand how all things [at Penn] fall under sustainability.”

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