Member Recruitment: Campus Resources

Member recruitment can be difficult: You could have a new chapter and be looking for additional members to help your organization grow; you could be looking for members because many have recently graduated; or you simply could have a small chapter and want more members in order to bolster your chapter’s activity. Regardless of where you and your chapter stand, understanding what campus resources are available to you and learning how to use them is critical to the recruitment process.

Community Events

Membership Recruitment: Former President reading poetry at the "Little Night Music" event

Poster for Annual “Little Night Music” at UNC

From personal experience, community is an integral part to support any organization, whether that community is on a college campus or elsewhere. But while most will agree fostering community connections is important to promote member recruitment, the execution can seem far more difficult. I found that brainstorming ideas to recruit members can be a breeze, but knowing where to start proves far more elusive.

The Zeta Psi Chapter has turned to resources our university, The University of Northern Colorado (UNC), provides to clubs and student-run organizations. If your university or college has a student activities office—or something similarly named—requesting basic information from them is unbelievably beneficial. This office can inform you about funding opportunities, help your chapter rent a table or booth in your university center, and give you information about collaborating with other clubs and organizations. Without the help of the UNC Student Activities office, my chapter wouldn’t have the opportunity to be as active in our campus community through events such as “A Little Night Music,” the marathon reading of A Christmas Carol, and spring and fall bake sales. Having an open line of communication with the student activities office opens doors for your chapter and gives you an idea of what events your chapter has the ability to host.

Student Activities Office

Former President reading poetry at the “Little Night Music” event

Sometimes, offices host member recruitment events specifically for clubs and organizations. For example, our university hosts “Bear Welcome,” an event for incoming freshmen to learn about numerous activities and events the week before classes begin. One of these events is the “Student Involvement Fair” in which clubs and organizations can rent tables to pass out flyers and information to incoming freshmen. This is a great way to recruit members who could potentially be involved in your chapter for their entire college career!

If your university or college doesn’t host a similar event, don’t be afraid to ask the student activities office if there is a way your chapter can become involved helping with new student orientation. Faculty is often required to attend orientation days in order to assist incoming freshmen sign up for classes. Ask your student activity office or professors in your English Department if you can assist with advising and promote your local chapter.

Faculty Collaboration

After talking with the student activities office, have members and your Chapter Sponsor organize a meeting to brainstorm what events would help improve recruitment the most. Bake sales, poetry readings, and writing workshops are some great places to start. A meeting provides the chance to get more involved with your campus community and gives the chapter an opportunity to pass out flyers and get to know other students who may be interested in joining. Make sure you have the student activities office information on hand during the meeting. Once the meeting has concluded you can email the office with any questions you may have regarding organizing your event.

Member Recruitment: Members selling cookies at our annual "Sonnet Sale."

Members selling cookies at our annual “Sonnet Sale”

One Last Member Recruitment Tip

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with other clubs and organizations when planning events. Finding clubs to co-host events both allows for more man power and fosters cross-communication between clubs in the same department. Finding writing and book clubs, or a campus literary magazine to organize events is a fun way to recruit members. Frequently students will participate in more than one club at a time; therefore, collaborating and communicating with like-minded organizations is a great way to increase Sigma Tau Delta chapter membership!

Additional Sigma Tau Delta Resources

What ideas do you have to foster new member recruitment in your chapter?


MSpringer
By Michelle Springer
Associate Student Representative, High Plains Region, 2016-2017
Zeta Psi Chapter
University of Northern Colorado, Evans, CO

Making “Almost Famous” Stories

Samantha MillerSamantha Miller
Student Advisor, 2016-2018
Alpha Epsilon Alpha Chapter
The College of New Jersey, Ewing, NJ

When I first read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” in eighth grade, I was struck by one primary thought: I wanted to write like that someday.

Almost Famous Women Book Cover

Jackson was one of the many eerie authors who influenced my taste today, her stories read alongside those of Poe, Asimov, and Bradbury. Yet, in non-English major company, when I fondly name “The Lottery” as my favorite short story I tend to get blank stares. Though Jackson is a canonical author and her work is still studied regularly in schools, the fantastically chilling story seems to have been pushed to the edges of their consciousness.

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman, the 2017 Common Reader, centers around women who likewise have been shifted aside. Some are on the outskirts of history—for instance, Dolly Wilde, Allegra Byron, and Norma Millay—while others are downright obscure, such as Hazel Eaton. Some, like Butterfly McQueen and the conjoined Hilton twins, may receive vague recognition even if their names have been mostly forgotten. All of their stories are told by outsiders peering into these women’s lives, and twelve out of thirteen stories construct a world where we might know their names as well.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

The outlier hails from my one of my favorite works—“The Lottery,” of course. Unlike the other stories in this collection, “The Lottery, Redux” does not reconstruct a person’s life but recreates another story. “The Lottery, Redux” shifts the setting to a matriarchal society that inherited its exile to a small, isolated island, and explores the perspective of a town leader who is exempt from the annual draw. I won’t give spoilers for the original or this masterful retelling, but I can say the piece retains all the elements that made me love “The Lottery” in the first place, while also expanding to encompass themes that Jackson skimmed over. Bergman pushes mob mentality to the side in lieu of complicated consciences and resentment; the characters meet their fates readily, with heads held high. No one—except the narrator—ever thinks it won’t happen to them.

Like the matriarchs in “The Lottery, Redux,” the women in Bergman’s collection are visibly the backbones of their communities. Whether the woman in question was already famous, on the edges of fame, or completely obscured by history, the collection recognizes them as important and worthy parts of history. Jackson has inspired me to write; Bergman has inspired me to explore the obscured corners of culture. She has written stories that span decades, ages, and perspectives; she has finally given these “almost famous women” the spotlight they deserve.


Submit Your Common Reader Work for Convention

Feeling inspired after reading the Common Reader and discussing it with your chapter? Compose a critical or creative piece based on Almost Famous Women and submit it to the Sigma Tau Delta 2017 International Convention, which will be held in Louisville, KY, on March 29 – April 1, 2017.

Awards of up to $600 will be given at the international convention for critical essays or other genres of work that deal with the 2017 Common Reader. To be eligible, students need to indicate on the convention submission form that their work is in the common reader category (presentation type). Members can submit a total of two works for the convention as long as they are in different categories.

Submission guidelines will be posted to englishconvention.org on August 1.

Submissions will be open from September 26, through October 24.

How to Use English to Create Cultural Connections

Martin HeadJonathan Martin
Associate Student Representative, Southwestern Region, 2015-2016
Rho Mu Chapter
Oklahoma Christian University, Oklahoma City, OK

Last summer I gained a new appreciation for language. I spent the six weeks between May 17 and June 28 in Yaizu City, Shizuoka, Japan. The value of language as a method to exchange ideas has never been clearer. My trip’s purpose was to converse with local residents who were interested in increasing their English conversational skills.

During my time there, I met some incredible people and had some wonderful conversations about the different ways we viewed the world. One of my regular conversation partners brought an aged copy of the King James Bible in English she’d found on her grandfather’s bookshelf of Buddhist texts. She asked if I would be willing to read through it with her, and I was. We only made it about nine or ten chapters into Genesis, but every single time we met, the conversation covered definitions of obsolete words, archaic grammar rules, ancient Babylonian mythology, and our individual views on what we were reading. It was an intelligent, respectful trading of thoughts and ideas across gender, age, and cultural gaps.

Japan--MartinThese days, I feel this type of enlightening conversation is lost in the constant stream of shouting matches dominating social media every other week. Language isn’t about who can yell louder and longer than their opponent. It’s about communion, the coming together to share both commonalities and differences.

Too often, people become caught up in “right vs. wrong” or “me vs. you” debates that divide rather than bring together. I know in my own heart, I am guilty of wanting to be proven “correct” rather than sitting down and conversing with a friend about a topic of mutual passion. I’m striving to change this about myself so I can better engage with and understand the world around me.

I can say with certainty my trip changed my life for the better. My eyes have seen the community, love, and tolerance that are possible when two people treat each other with respect and sincerity.

Tell us about your experiences sharing the English language with someone from a different culture in the comments below.