1992 Cousins National Chapter Award
How to Become a Successful Psi Chi Chapter
Greg Brake, 1991-1992 Chapter President
Tricia Yurak, 1990-1991 Chapter President and 1991-1992 Chapter Secretary
1992 Cousins Award Winner
Winning Chapter's Essay
Northern Kentucky University Psi Chi Chapter
As with any organization, the success of a Psi Chi chapter depends upon a number of factors. Specifically, we believe that there are four key elements needed to become a successful Psi Chi chapter: (1) a commitment to promoting the ideals of Psi Chi, (2) a sense of support among students, (3) mutual support between the faculty and students, and (4) active participation in campus activities.
The first, and most important, step in becoming a successful Psi Chi chapter is making a commitment to promote the ideals of Psi Chi. This can be achieved in a variety of different ways. First, we can plan diverse activities, including scholarly presentations. By sponsoring events such as these, we promote scholarship while creating an interest among members to get involved with research firsthand. Other activities include social events, such as holiday parties and celebrations of achievement. Programs, on topics such as graduate school advice, may also be set up to help and inform students.
Planning community service projects as well as encouraging and supporting members who volunteer at local agencies is also an important aspect of promoting the ideals of Psi Chi. By sponsoring social gatherings, such as a welcome-back open house at the beginning of the semester, parties, picnics, etc., we promote fellowship among students and between students and faculty. This is very important because it allows students to get to know people with similar interests and allows them to get to know each other in a different light, rather than all academic. These events serve to strengthen the bond among members and provide a cohesiveness for the organization.
A second step toward success involves utilization of this cohesiveness to support each other as a group. We can accomplish this by encouraging member input about what the chapter should do and what events the chapter should plan. Once members have given their input, however, it is the officers' duty to get every member involved in some way, doing anything from planning meetings and arranging speakers to posting signs or writing thank-you notes. Support can also come from recognizing significant accomplishments of individual Psi Chi members through award ceremonies (announcement of scholarships, fellowships, awards, grants, research presentations, publications, etc.).
In addition, members must support each other as students by being willing to give assistance to anyone who needs it. This can be done by forming study groups for classes, tutoring students on material that is difficult to understand, and offering suggestions about research. Another way for Psi Chi members to support students is to perform a guiding or mentoring role for younger students. The best way to do this is to sponsor an organization, such as a Psychology Club, for those who do not yet meet the requirements for induction into Psi Chi or for those who simply have an interest in the field of psychology. This allows members not only to help the younger students get involved earlier in their academic careers, but also to help them to realize the importance of involvement and academic achievement.
A third key to success as a Psi Chi chapter is to establish a mutual support among the students and the faculty, or Psychology Department. One way of doing this is to get students involved in faculty research, which helps both the student, who gets valuable experience, and the faculty member, who gets a capable assistant to carry out some of the many aspects of research. The faculty can offer their support by sponsoring student presentations at conferences and by sponsoring events that will help the students, such as offering information on applying to graduate schools, etc. In return, the chapter must sponsor events that are of interest to the faculty members (various colloquia, etc.), and it must provide a service to the department, by taking on responsibilities and doing tasks specifically for the department.
Finally, in order to make our chapter of Psi Chi a successful one, we must take an active role on campus. We should participate in campuswide activities, such as Student Organization Rallies and AIDS or Alcohol Awareness Weeks, and work with other campus organizations to plan events and activities. We also have the responsibility of informing our members of other student organizations, such as Student Government, etc., and encouraging them to get involved, which will bring diversity to the chapter.
Although a successful Psi Chi chapter is one which promotes the ideals of Psi Chi, provides support among students and faculty, and is involved in community and campus activities, there are many other important, practical issues that may help give rise to success. For example, we need to encourage responsible students to take on the leadership roles as officers. We must also properly train these officers so that the chapter may work efficiently as a student organization on campus, by turning in required paperwork, etc., and as a national organization, by completing appropriate forms, registering members, etc. Always, we must be aware of the value of good organization, publicity, and advanced planning. These are keys to successfully completing chapter goals.