The Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha at the University of Michigan is Watch The Yard’s Chapter of The Week.
We caught up with D’Andre Simpson the President of the chapter and he opened up about the chapter’s past, present and future.
Read the interview below:
What is the name of your chapter and when was it founded?
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Epsilon Chapter — otherwise known as The 5th House, and The Mother of The Midwest. We were chartered on Saturday, April 10th, 1909.
Give us a quick history of the chapter.
Epsilon was chartered April 10th, 1909 by 8 distinguished gentlemen. This chapter is not only older than every other Black organization on the University of Michigan’s campus, but is also older than every other NPHC fraternity. The chapter motto is “Accept nothing questionable, nothing questionable accepted.” Some of the more prestigious members of Epsilon chapter are W. E. B. Dubois, Willis Ward, Belford V. Lawson, Brett Hart, and Dhani Jones to name a few.
How many people are in your chapter?
There are currently 8 active brothers in the chapter.
What are some major achievements your chapter has held in the past?
Epsilon funded a Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial to be built and placed inside of a University Building, Epsilon played a huge role in the creation of the Department of African-American Studies(DAAS) and the building of The William H. Trotter Multicultural Center (1971). The 5th House is also responsible for creating The Diag Charity Stroll-Off where the winner is determined by who can raise the most money for their charity.
What are some major events that your chapter has planned for the next year?
Miss Black and Gold, Salute to African-American Women, Tribute to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Who holds leadership in the chapter?
D’Andre Simpson (President), he is currently a Junior majoring in Economics.
Darnell Butler (Vice President), he is a 5th year senior studying Industrial and Operations Engineering
Jon-David Graves (Treasurer), he is a Junior studying Mechanical Engineering.
Sena Adjei (Secretary, Parliamentarian, and Social Media Co-Chair), he is a junior double majoring in Political Science and Economics with a minor in African-American Studies.
Stephen Wallace (Chaplain and Social Media Co-Chair), he is a senior studying Public Policy.
Derrell Chapman (Step and Stroll Master), he is a junior studying Biomolecular Science with a minor in Epistemology and Philosophy
How does your chapter improve and contribute to the college experience of fellow non-greek students on campus.
This chapter is seen as a beacon of hope during times of racial tension and many of its members are not only leaders within Alpha, but leaders in a number of other organizations on campus. D’Andre Simpson is the Vice President of the Black Business Undergraduate Society (BBUS) and a facilitator of a class, Isaiah Land is the President of the NAACP, Stephen Wallace is the Vice-Chairman of HEADS which is a weekly community forum hosted between Black male students on campus, and Jon-David Graves is the community service chair of National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).
Greeks are popularly known for their social footprint, however we at Epsilon Chapter believe it is essential that we contribute more to the campus of the University of Michigan. We host an annual stroll off which was recently featured on Watch The Yard and which helps raise money for various charities, we host mental health forums on campus to provide insight and solidarity during the times of high racial tension here on campus, and we even are hosting ballroom lessons for students on campus to come enjoy themselves among a safe, welcoming community.
Epsilon has a rich history of campus leadership and activism and have made it a priority to meet with administrators, including the University’s President Mark Schlissel to discuss ways in which to make campus a comfortable and positive environment for all of its students, and will continue to do so.
Why is it great to be an Alpha in your chapter and at your school?
Being an Alpha at this chapter and at this school is great because of the rich and immense history dating all the way back to 1909. Epsilon has built and sustained a tradition of greatness and it challenges us as its inheritors to continue that tradition as we grow and learn and prepare the next generation of Epsilon men. There is a culture of competition, of urgency, and of deep humility and respect for the legacy we have been privileged to join and as the 5th house, we do our best to set a standard that not only we can be proud of, but others can appreciate as well.
The black community at the University of Michigan campus is small at just 4%, which makes it resemble a family in a lot of ways. Everyone knows one another for the most part and so we can always count on the community to support us and our events. In exchange as Alpha men we have a responsibility to serve and work for our community as well, and the appreciation we receive from them is unparalleled. We have a profound love for the students here on campus, they make the work worth doing.
What does the future of Black greek life look like at your school?
The future of Black greek life here is unimaginably bright. The University of Michigan is host to 4 single letter chapters including us at Epsilon, and has 8 of the Divine 9 active on our yard. In the time since Fall 15, and especially with the initiates of Spring 17 there is an enthusiasm and an excitement attached to Black greek life that will bring some really incredible things to the University of Michigan.
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