Traditions of Epsilon
During Epsilons 75+ years, numerous traditions have evolved and help define our chapter. Some of these traditions have fallen away with time, some have gone on for decades.
The Family Flowers: At the pledge initiation, every pledge is designated as a member of one of the six family flowers. Pledges take the same family flower as their big brother. When we have events, such as the T-Bird skit competition, the family flowers compete against each other for honor and glory. The Family Flowers were started in 1979. At the time the University was encouraging organizations on campus to start some new traditions, so the brothers at the time came up with the idea of the family flowers. The people who are at the head of the Family Flowers are: Randall Cupp, Yellow Roses; Gary Pagliai, Pink Carnations; Steven Wolf, Red Carnations; Jennifer Gardiner, Red Roses; Dariush Eghbali, White Carnations; Denise Brandt, White Rose. The White Roses died out and became the flower for the advisors.
Big Brothers: Every pledge is assigned a big brother, who is chosen from the active membership. Each big brother is responsible for creating a pledge binder for their little brother, and then being their sponsor and guide throughout their pledge season. At the end of pledge season the big brother is supposed to make a letter sweatshirt for their little brother. In return the little brother is required to buy their big brother a paddle.
Pledge Class Paddle: The Pledges are entrusted a six-foot paddle, originally donated by the Spring Pledge Class of 1981. They are supposed to protect the paddle from abduction by actives, associates, and alumni. The paddle must be present at all active and pledge meetings, and major fellowship events and service projects like Camp Thunderbird. This is a friendly competition that encourages the pledges work together to protect the paddle. As a result of the name change of the University a new paddle was desired and the Spring Pledge Class of 1996 gave the Chapter this gift. Because there are now two paddles, the actives are supposed to protect the one that is marked NMSU.
Nickname Ceremony: Big Brothers give their Little Brothers a nickname at a ceremony during which the pledges are presented with pledge membership cards and their Family Flower. The meaning of their nickname is supposed to be revealed at activation the following semester, if it is not already apparent.
"Fieldtrip" to the AFW-E Headstone: During the last pledge meeting the pledges are led by their pledge class trainers to our chapter's memorial, where our legend and its significance are explained. This continuing tradition was started with the Fall Pledge Class of 1977. In the Fall of 1996 the story of the founding of the Epsilon Chapter and the reading of the names of our Chapter's Founding Fathers was added to this tradition.
The Chaplain Report: During the Chaplain report members of the Chapter can receive congratulations, praise for a good job, or a word of encouragement. This is done through the "Pat on the Back," the "Hug Buddy," and the "Warm Fuzzy." Other awards that are voted on weekly during the Chaplain Report vary between the Active of the Week, Pledge of the Week, Sweet of the Week, Creep of the Week, and the Dork of the Week. In past years, winners of these awards got magnets.
Distinguished Service Twinkie: A spoof on the Distinguished Service Key. Committee heads choose a committee member who has worked extra hard behind the scenes. Their award is a Twinkie. This tradition began with Chaplin Amy Metzger in Fall 1999.
Camp: The Epsilon Chapter's largest service project and fellowship event every semester. The Epsilon Chapter travels to a nearby campt for an evening of fellowship activities, a bonfire, and the nickname ceremony. The following morning, the chapter wakes up early for a day full of service for the camp we stayed at.
Beginning in Fall 2010, Epsilon travels to Camp Silver Meadow, a nearby Girl Scout camp. Previous Camps included Jo-Ota, a local church camp, and Camp Thunderbird, a Boy Scout camp. In January 1998 at the Region VIII Conference at Washington University, Epsilon won the Best Region VIII Service Project Award.
X-Notes: A camp tradition. During camp, brothers create bags and leave notes in others bags. Called J-Bags at Jo-Ota, T-Notes at Thunderbird, and SNotes at Silver Meadow, brothers look to reading their bags full of messages from friends after camp.
Polar Bear Club: A former camp tradition. The Polar Bear Club is one of our more risque traditions. It involves willing members to jump into the lake at Camp Thunderbird. It is divided into several different categories.
PolarBear I: A member shall be naked when they jump into the lake during the day.
Polar Bear II: A member shall either be naked or go in during the night into the lake when the temperature is below fifty degrees.
Grizzly Bear Club: A member shall go into the water when the temperature has dipped below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (outside of course).
Ashes: A camp tradition. The members of the Chapter are asked to bring along an empty film canister to use to hold the ashes of the camp fire at Camp Thunderbird or Jo-Ota. Epsilon brothers then hold onto these ashes until the next camp, where they are encouraged to throw them back into the fire. The ashes from camp have been to many different Boy Scout and Alpha Phi Omega events.
The Gold Sash: The Gold Sash is an honor that is given to members that have displayed the Three Cardinal Principles well beyond what a regular active member is required to do. All active and alumni members in good standing can be elected to receive this distinguished award by the current members who have a Gold Sash. This award is given to our members at Formal in the Spring.
Beads: These are awarded when specific events, achievements, or positions which are attended by, or attained by one of our members. This is based on the use of beads in the Boy Scouts. This was started in the Fall of 1996 under the Scouting Chair Stephanie Landess. A breakdown of the colors and their meanings appears later on in the history.
Pancake City: This is a tradition that usually follows most regular Chapter meetings and other Chapter functions where the members make the trek to Pancake City on Baltimore Street to enjoy fun, fellowship, and good food with each other. Often there is a grub fry eating contest to accompany the experience.
Thursday Night Dinners at Main street: Dinners at Main street is an event in which the members of Epsilon gather to have dinner with each other in the Main street Market Dining area in the Student Union Building. When this tradition was started is unknown, but it is one of the more popular events, where brothers can socialize in a very relaxed environment.
"Don't forget, Tuesday dress up and Thursday wear your letters": A common call that is heard by the members of the Epsilon Chapter at our Tuesday night meetings. This began as a Public Relations push, but has evolved into one of the major traditions of Epsilon.
Semi-formal: The first semi-formal of the Epsilon Chapter was held 5 December 1997 at the Catholic Newman Center in Kirksville. The concept was brought out when Fellowship Chair Shannon McCarty and Fundraising Chair Amanda Bowles were brainstorming for Fellowship ideas while sober driving for our sister sorority, Alpha Sigma Gamma. The idea of a semi-formal was created and the Newman Center was picked because they offered us free rental in exchange for helping out with the Mary Immaculate School Carnival. The theme for the first semi-formal was "Baby, It's Cold Outside!" The semi-formal became tradition when the Chapter was rewarded for making its Service hour goal in the Spring 1998 semester with another semi-formal.
The Presidential Gavel: This tradition has become almost as annoying as it is fun. When a new President of the Epsilon Chapter is sworn in he receives the Presidential Gavel from his predecessor to use to help run the meetings. All of the members of the Epsilon Chapter are responsible to try to steal the gavel when the meeting is not in session. Most of the time the President will spend two weeks whining about how the gavel is missing or trying to get it back. Usually the members return the gavel after a couple of weeks so that the President will at least have a chance at keeping it. However there have been problems in the past with members choosing not to return the gavel, resulting in a replacement donated by the Fall 1996 Pledge Class, which is, of course, missing.