Everyone is currently trying to plan for a semester that is extremely unpredictable. I have personally decided to use pencil instead of pen in my planner and I highly recommend that you do the same! With such uncertainty surrounding the scheduling and unfolding of the next few months, planning for chapter events can easily become just another source of stress and uncertainty. I am here to encourage you—this is not a time to panic about chapter event planning. This strange and completely new set of circumstances is a unique opportunity to get creative, think outside of the box, and try new things with your Sigma Tau Delta chapter.
First things first, let’s address the elephant in the room—the current health and safety situation. Many campuses across the nation are not allowing groups of students to meet face-to-face because of concerns surrounding the pandemic. This does not mean that chapter events cannot be held, it simply means that chapter events are going to look a lot different than what most of us are used to. With that being said, once you have an idea for an event, make sure the event can be done easily either in-person or virtually. You don’t want to plan for an in-person event only to have it cancelled due to health and safety concerns. I recommend planning it for a virtual platform first and then translating it to an in-person set-up if you are able to meet face-to-face. Going from a virtual to an in-person event is a much smoother transition than going from an in-person to a virtual event as I am sure we have all found out over these past few months. Now, let’s start planning!
When beginning to plan for your event, ask yourself the question: What is the purpose of this event? The purpose does not have to be very specific, but deciding on a purpose upfront will make planning and organizing the event much easier. Throughout the planning process, continuously ask yourself: How does this achieve the purpose of this event? Having a clear purpose will also give you a way to measure whether or not your event was successful. Every school year, but this school year in particular, I believe one of the major purposes for chapter events should be connection. In a socially distanced society of quarantined individuals, making and maintaining connections with others is extremely important. Below this broad category “connection,” there are three sub-categories that chapter events can and should fit into: events that build connections within the chapter, events that build connections with other chapters, and events that build connections with the community. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Events that Build Connections within the Chapter
- Book Club
This is a tried and true English community classic. Furthermore, Book Clubs can easily be translated to virtual platforms. If you want to switch up the traditional notion of a chapter Book Club, think about asking one of your English professors to choose a book he or she does not get to teach but thoroughly enjoys for your chapter to read. They will then lead the book club meeting on that particular book. You can rotate professors and books as often as you want, or read the same book with one professor for the entire semester.
- Literary Trivia Night
A literary trivia night is a really fun way to bond with those in your chapter through some healthy competition that everyone should be pretty qualified for! Most popular virtual resources have ways to organize trivia competitions. Research some questions online or, if you want to make it really serious, gather some notes from different professors that everyone in your English department has taken classes from to make it fair and square (for those who were paying attention in class!).
Events that Build Connections with Other Chapters
- Participate in Regional Conferences/Journals
Submit work to your Regional Conferences and Journals, as well as the Sigma Tau Delta journals—which will be accepting submissions April 12 and May 10, 2021—Reach out to your Region’s Student Representative and Associate Student Representative to find out more information about opportunities for your work to be presented or published.
- Book Exchange
Reach out to the Sigma Tau Delta Chapter of the university nearest to you or to a university you have existing connections with. Find out how many members they have and arrange an exchange in which each person in your chapter sends his or her favorite book with a note in it explaining why the book means so much to them to someone in the other chapter and vice versa. Everyone gets a new book! If the cost of shipping is an issue, consider designating a driver to drop off the books at a common meeting point.
Events that Build Connection with the Community
Facilitate an essay and/or poetry contest for a local middle school or high school. Ask students to write submissions centered around a specific and current topic like life in quarantine, what they would tell themselves if they knew the pandemic was coming last year, or social injustices.
Chapter events are one of the most enjoyable and memorable parts of being a member of Sigma Tau Delta member. Plan them and enjoy them!
Sigma Tau Delta
Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society, was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University. The Society strives to
- Confer distinction for high achievement in English language and literature in undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies;
- Provide, through its local chapters, cultural stimulation on college campuses and promote interest in literature and the English language in surrounding communities;
- Foster all aspects of the discipline of English, including literature, language, and writing;
- Promote exemplary character and good fellowship among its members;
- Exhibit high standards of academic excellence; and
- Serve society by fostering literacy.
With over 900 active chapters located in the United States and abroad, there are more than 1,000 Faculty Advisors, and approximately 9,000 members inducted annually.
Sigma Tau Delta also recognizes the accomplishments of professional writers who have contributed to the fields of language and literature.