Student participation in honor societies

By Irina Rusanova

As of now, it may be difficult to observe honor society events. But before a COVID-19 induced quarantine, some societies made their presence known a few times a semester through regular campus-wide events. These perhaps came and went quickly, though, maybe before students had a chance to ask what these societies were in the first place. Other societies do less events, thereby keeping a lower profile from the campus at large. This may make it unclear what honor societies do, who is a part of them, and how many members participate. To help illuminate these groups, some members of honor societies at SVC offered their insight.

Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) is widely known as the freshman honor society. ALD accepts students who have earned at least a 3.5 GPA during their first semester at SVC (which makes them a part of the top 10 percent of their class) and expects students to maintain a GPA of this level throughout their college careers.

The society uses a “point system” where members must earn a minimum of two points, by completing activities, participating in events held by the society, and attending monthly chapter meetings. Events include collecting canned goods for Storm the Dorm, making holiday cards for veterans and the elderly, and donating supplies to humane societies.

“Now it’s more like, […] ‘try to get your point log up the next semester,’ and then if you do a couple semesters, they start kind of calming down a little bit.” - Joel Trentin

“More people attend their events towards the end of the semester because people want to get their two required points in […], so at the end of the semester, the attendance percentage is probably around 25 to 45 percent,” said Paige Dawson, ALD member.

Megan Miller, another member, said students often participate in ALD events because it’s “so easy to stop by for a bit.”

The officers make sure to do a variety of projects that draw student interest [and] I've noticed that a lot of people participate even more than the required two points,” she said.

Member Grace Noel said events are more fun because a lot of people show up.

“Even though we […] came because we had to, […] there’s more chance for interaction and different dynamics,” she said.

“I’d say [ALD] is definitely the most active out of all of the [honor societies] that I’m in,” Grace Harris said.

Most interviewees agreed that the point system works well. However, Joel Trentin, history major, mentioned that the point system does not guarantee stable member attendance rates. ALD used to suspend students for failing to meet requirements, but Trentin said that it has relaxed in recent years when handing out penalties to students.

“Students often participate in ALD events, particularly the ones involving tables in the Carey Center, because it's so easy to stop by for a bit of time and engage in whatever service activity has been planned.” - Megan Miller

“Now it’s more like, […] ‘try to get your point log up the next semester,’ and then if you do a couple semesters, they start kind of calming down a little bit,” he stated. “And they’re easy to work with, too.”

Overall, students who continuously fail to meet the academic and participatory expectations do not receive ALD cords for graduation. However, any member who wishes to wear the cords to the ceremony who has not already received them can purchase them themselves.

Another society that utilizes the point system is Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta). Tri-Beta accepts students who have taken at least three biology courses and have a 3.0 or higher GPA overall, and then must maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in their biology classes to remain in the society. Members are expected to earn at least three points every semester to receive free graduation cords from Tri-Beta.

“The activities that count toward points include meetings, fundraisers, and fun events,” Rachael Sarnowski, biology major, explained.

Harry Hiles, biology major, stated that Tri-Beta, does not struggle maintaining student attendance. He finds that many members excel in their classes and that since the society is quite big, there are always enough members participating to complete the activities and services they schedule.

“I think we get our highest attendance when we have speakers or host conferences for professional development.” - Sarah O'Callaghan

Psi Chi (PC), the psychology honor society, uses the point system as well. PC expects members to maintain at least a 3.5 GPA in their psychology courses and earn three points a year to receive free cords for graduation.

Dawson, who has been a member since her sophomore year, said that since PC’s member count is made up of psychology majors and minors, it is a smaller society. Miller, who is also a member of PC, said that the society has deep ties to the psychology department at SVC and is particularly important to students who aim to present their research at conferences.

“Students in this society are well acquainted with one another, and that may help boost participation,” she said. “Also, the projects we do feel like they have a direct impact.”

Kaylee Gojkovich, psychology major and current president of PC, stated that her role is to maintain order in Saint Vincent College’s PC chapter and its running, which includes planning their annual events and inducting new members to keep the chapter running.

“There are no penalties per se, but our annual events include donating to the Saint Anne Home and the Blackburn Center, so if [members fail to participate], those organizations would miss out on our donations,” she stated.

“[Though KDP does not have a point system,] we do have events such as raising money for Beverly’s Birthdays, which [supports] kids that don’t have money to throw birthday parties.” - Paige Krempasky

For this reason and others, members’ attendance at PC is not an issue.

“Our participation for our donation events is usually very high,” Gojkovich stated. “We are happy that our members are willing and able to give back to those in need.”

Gojkovich said that attendance rates have remained relatively stable over the time she has been in PC but found that donation events draw in more participants than smaller events.

Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the education honor society, also uses the point system.

Sarah O’Callaghan, early childhood education major and officer for KDP, stated that in order to be invited to join KDP, students must have taken at least 12 credits in education courses and have an overall GPA of at least 3.25 for education undergraduate students, or 3.75 for education graduate students. A student must also pay certain national and local dues to remain a member and earn graduation cords from KDP.

KDP Induction Ceremony 2020 (Source: SVC Flickr)

KDP has a meeting at the beginning of each year, during which members split up into committees headed by the officers to plan and prepare for different events throughout the year.

“[Though KDP does not have a point system,] we do have events such as raising money for Beverly’s Birthdays, which [supports] kids that don’t have money to throw birthday parties,” Paige Krempasky, English major and current KDP secretary, explained.

O’Callaghan said that attendance varies depending on the event hosted by the society.

“I think we get our highest attendance when we have speakers or host conferences for professional development,” she stated.

Jessica Hartner, early childhood education major, explained that the society refrains from penalizing students who do not participate in events, meaning that members’ participation is highly encouraged but only their own interest will fuel them to attend.

“Our participation for our donation events is usually very high. We are happy that our members are willing and able to give back to those in need.” - Kaylee Gojkovich

Krempasky spoke about societies that do not operate using the points system, instead opting for requirements other than activities participation. She first addressed societies such as Sigma Tau Delta (STD), the English honor society, which require students to pay to become members.

Krempasky noticed that a greater number of students has been joining honor societies but said that having to pay to become a member is a down factor. According to Krempasky, the entrance fee can be as high as 50 dollars, which some students cannot afford.

Some less stringent societies also stand apart from the point system.

Alpha Chi (AC) is the society dedicated to the “top 10 percent” of juniors and seniors. Sarnowski, the current secretary, stated that the society performs one service event each semester and that there is no penalty for lack of participation.

Alpha Chi Induction Ceremony 2019 (Source: SVC Flickr)

Pi Mu Epsilon (PME) is the math honor society. Zachary Schuler, math and economics double major, has been a member since his junior year. He explained that the society inducts new members who have taken a certain number of math courses every two years. Members receive cords and go to a dinner event; PME does not have recurring events.

“[It] is just one-shot GPA-based, so you don’t really have to worry about recurring attendance,” Schuler stated.

Trentin spoke about some unstated expectations honor societies have for their members.

“The projects we do feel like they have a direct impact.” - Megan Miller

“They all want you to be involved,” he said. “Obviously you have to pay certain dues and things, [but] they all want you to show your face.”

Trentin encouraged all members of honor societies to stay involved and engaged in events and activities their societies set up.

“Show your face around campus, be a shining star of Saint Vincent academics, which I try to be as best I can,” he said.

#IrinaRusanova #HonorSocieties #AlphaLambdaDelta #TriBeta #PsiChi #KappaDeltaPi #SigmaTauDelta #Participation

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