By Gabriela Salvador
Membership in a collegiate honors society provides an impressive line on a resume, but remaining active enough to take full advantage of membership benefits is challenging to William Paterson University students.
Though WPU has more than 20 honor societies, serving every major from Computer Science to Theatre, and even an honor society for transfer students, few campus events are sponsored or organized by honor societies.
According to Dr. Alison Dobrick, the faculty advisor for Kappa Delta Pi, the international education honor society, the lack of active involvement in honor societies is likely due to the nature of WPU’s student population.
“At William Paterson … many students are commuters or work so many hours that becoming active on campus is not easy,” said Dobrick.
Students also felt that their status as commuters limited their involvement in honor societies.
“Unfortunately as a commuter student it is hard to be involved in them,” said Jonathon Dragon, 20, a History major who is a member of four honor societies.
In addition, many students are invited or inducted into honor societies during their senior year, and graduate immediately after, which leaves little time for them to get involved, according to Dr. Arlene Holpp-Scala, the faculty advisor for the Women’s and Gender Studies honor society Iota, Iota, Iota.
Members inducted in the spring, when most induction ceremonies occur, have little time to plan and execute events. Events are an essential way to involve honor society members.
“A lot of them you have the grades for and you pay the fee and then you’re in,” said Franziska Federico, 21, a Secondary Education and English Literature major who is a member of the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta and the National Society of Leadership and Success. “You don’t have to do some kind of service or participate in events like you do with a club.”
Yet, being active in an honor society allows members to experience the full range of benefits membership boasts, which, according to Dobrick, include, “opportunities to take on leadership roles, to work collaboratively with, learn from, and bond with other, high-achieving teachers.”
Holpp-Scala adds that membership in a collegiate honor society can increase a student’s self-esteem and help build close relationships with other students in their major.
“There are corporate discounts and other benefits like that. Really, the benefits are equal to what students opt to put into it… The more active the member, the more benefits the society can offer,” said Dobrick.
To become more active and relevant on campus, Holpp-Scala recommends that honor societies include civic engagement, service learning, and social justice components into their programming.
Several honor societies on campus are currently addressing the low rates of involvement by encouraging students to participate in small-scale activities.
“We have also encouraged members to take a leadership role even if just for a small project they design,” said Dobrick. For example, a student organized a small group of KDP members to read to children at a Paterson library.”