PUC’s English Department Re-Establishes Honors Society Sigma Tau Delta

Sigma Tau Delta is an international English Honors Society for English majors and minors. Our PUC English honors society provides English-related enrichment within the community, provides opportunities for English students to pursue their interests and talents, and hosts events throughout the year for anyone to attend.

Lauren VandenHoven is one of Sigma Tau Delta’s board members and graciously shared what it’s been like re-establishing the honors society this year and being a part of Sigma Tau Delta. 

Tell us about Sigma Tau Delta. 

Sigma Tau Delta is an international English Honors Society across many colleges, so our club is just one chapter. Officially, membership in Sigma Tau is limited to English majors and minors who are at least a sophomore. Members get to be officially inducted into the club, participate in chapter meetings, and receive cords at graduation. However, when it comes to events, which are the main thing Sigma Tau exists for, anyone is welcome and encouraged to attend! The way that we see it is that we host the events, but they are for everyone.

The club was re-established this year. How did everything come together for this to happen?

There is not too much to say about this because there was really only a couple of years where we weren’t a club. This year, Professor Tetz took on the role of sponsor and we held elections for our executive board. Then we started to plan what events we’d like to do, and it’s been going well since then! To be honest, I don’t know a lot about the answer to this question besides what I’ve written because every single person in the club is a first-time member, and we are in some ways deciding what it will look like as we go along.

What are your responsibilities as an executive board member?

We decided to have an executive board because we didn’t want all the responsibility for club activities to fall on one person, or for one person to be in charge of all the club decisions. So we get ideas from club members about what they’d like to do, and then the three of us on the executive board (and Professor Tetz) meet most weeks to work on scheduling and organizing those activities. It’s also really good because we are all very busy with academics and other activities, so having three people working together makes it really easy to plan fun things without too much strain on anyone individually. For example, one of us will take notes in meetings for future planning, one of us will advertise, one of us will buy food for the events, and we all share the set-up and clean-up.

What is the mission of Sigma Tau Delta?

 The official mission of Sigma Tau Delta as a whole, according to their website, is 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.

I think the PUC club definitely supports all of those things, but I think we focus mainly on the second one, providing English-related enrichment for our surrounding community, because the majority of what we do is providing opportunities for majors to connect with each other, and for other students to be part of our department and enjoy literary activities even if they aren’t a major. All of our activities are literary or literary-adjacent pursuits, but the main point of it all (in my opinion) is getting to pursue our interests and enjoy each other’s talents and company.

Can you share any activities or events the club has planned this year? Who can attend?

So far, we have had just two events because a lot of fall quarter was spent deciding what the club was even going to be and how we were going to run it. Our first event was a Christmas party during dead week, where we mostly just wanted to provide a spot for people to take a break and relax, so we had lots of cookies and showed a movie, and just chatted with each other. Our second event was Bad Poetry Afternoon, which is an annual tradition that we co-sponsored with the English department this year. At this event, anyone can sign up to read their badly-written verse and it is an afternoon full of laughter and enjoying poetry but not taking ourselves too seriously. We also had donuts. Both of these events were open to anyone who wanted to come, and we got lots of majors and non-majors attending.

Why should future English students join Sigma Tau Delta?

I think future English students should join our club because it’s a great way to make friends and “find your people.” We see each other in classes, but we might be too bogged down with homework to get to pursue our literary hobbies just for fun. It’s often said that the best way to make friends and find a good community is by seeking out people with your same interests, and I think our club is a great opportunity for that. All you need to do is show up, and you will probably find people who share your passions or, at the very least, are fun to be around. Plus, membership is not very expensive, and all of our events are free.

What is your favorite thing about being a part of Sigma Tau Delta?

My favorite thing about Sigma Tau Delta so far is getting to hang out with other majors who aren’t in my year. Because of how the structure of the major works, I have been in a cohort with a lot of the same people for most of my classes. I love that, but it does mean that I have very little interaction with freshmen and sophomores because they aren’t to their upper-division classes yet (also because of the pandemic and online school preventing us from ever getting introduced in the first place). So Sigma Tau has helped me to make friends with so many people I might not have been around much otherwise, and I think it has helped everyone in our department to interact with each other a little more even if they don’t necessarily meet in classes.

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