BY KACIE GROSSMEIER
For being such a small campus, St. Norbert has much to offer its students when it comes to campus involvement. Beyond SNC athletics, there are clubs, intramurals, positions with the church, student-run groups, Greek life, social groups and friendly faces to invite students in to become a part of something bigger than themselves.
But not every purposeful gathering of students is equal and recognition of such groups by the SNC community is not distributed fairly. As irony would have it, such acknowledgement is lacking for the same societies whose job it is to recognize members of this campus: honors societies.
Maybe it’s because of the Greek letters that people get confused, but contrary to what many might think, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Delta Epsilon Sigma, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Sigma Iota, Sigma Nu Delta, Sigma Tau Delta, Theta Alpha Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi are not sororities or fraternities. They are honors societies, generally field-related.
The problem with honor societies on this campus is that nobody knows they exist. The research I had to do to find all of the honor society names versus the ease with which I had in finding sorority and fraternity chapters speaks for itself. Honor societies are not easily accessible, nor are they recognized by the campus community.
At SNC the focus given to Greek life entirely overshadows the work and worlds of honorary chapters. Greek life has such a strong presence on campus that the moment someone mentions Greek letters, the mind immediately goes to sorority/fraternity groups. While Greek life can be good, it is problematic for honor societies when their scholarly members are confused for socially chosen sisters/brothers, as it diminishes the respectability of the honors society.
Since Greek life dominates the SNC social life scene, honor societies take the backseat. SNC continually glorifies Greek life, from all of the homecoming activities being centered on the Greek life groups to the constant Greek life signs in the campus center and tables set up in the commons. Fittingly, many honor society members who also belong to Greek life tend to place their sorority/fraternity above their honors society obligations. Meanwhile, honor societies float somewhere in the back corners of the community, fighting for meeting space and membership.
But the road goes both ways. Just as much as the SNC community fails to recognize honor societies, the honor societies put little forth worth recognizing. Honor societies are lacking—lacking in support from their department’s faculty, commitment from members and in active participation in campus life.
As a result, there is little allure to join an honor society today. There is no promise of forever friends, no evidence of fun times to be found and no push made for students to inquire about the honor societies at all.
Currently, honor societies do little to enhance the lives of student members and the campus community. While they recognize the accomplishments of their particular members who choose to join the group, they do little else. No events are held, no participation in campus life occurs and no move to make a space for honor societies on campus is made. As a whole, with the help of minimal support from the campus community, honor societies allow themselves to go unnoticed and uncared for.
Other universities have learned to value their honor societies. At other colleges, honor societies are included in homecoming activities alongside Greek life. The initiation into these groups is an event worth attending, set up in halls and catered by the school where speakers are brought in and faculty attend. The societies are set up with member relations similar to “bigs” and “littles,” essentially creating mentorships between peers and support systems within the academic societies. Honor societies meet regularly, build comradery between members and become a home for the members instead of just a resume builder.
SNC has a long way to go before its honor societies reach this kind of attractiveness and activity. But there are simple ways to begin. It can start by having more emphasis placed on honor societies and pushing faculty and students to become involved in them. The school can capitalize on the services, support, scholarships and enhancement to the overall academic experience these societies are meant to provide for their members.
Honor societies should be more than just a couple of members meeting three times a semester and then e-mailing the advisors. They deserve a place on this campus.