1996 Cousins National Chapter Award
How to Become a Successful Psi Chi Chapter
Jeffrey Hewes, Chapter President
Susan Burt, Chapter Secretary
1996 Cousins Award Winner
Winning Chapter's Essay
Southeast Missouri State University Psi Chi Chapter
The primary purpose of Psi Chi is "to encourage, stimulate, and maintain excellence in scholarship of individual members in all fields, particularly in psychology, and to advance the science of psychology." This is the cornerstone of our society and should be the overall goal of each chapter. Each chapter provides individual members with their first contact at the undergraduate level with a professional organization dedicated to the discipline of psychology. Psi Chi chapters must therefore provide to members instruction, programming, and opportunities that enhance their college experience and are beneficial to their future career objectives. In order to accomplish this, a chapter must be built on the basic ideals of leadership, membership, scholarship, and fellowship.
Leadership is the foundation of the local chapter. It depends on leadership from the faculty advisor, which in turn affects each of the officers. These officers must be dedicated to the growth of the chapter and to providing opportunities to individual members to develop within the field of psychology. The leadership must demonstrate the highest standard in involvement, commitment, and scholarship for the chapter. It is the leadership's responsibility to develop new programming and to augment existing programming dedicated to reaching Psi Chi's goals. They must further cultivate the membership and work toward making their chapter an honor society worthy of their time and participation. Finally, it is each officer's obligation to orient and develop the incoming officers.
Membership is the building tool of a successful chapter. Membership should not begin and end with the induction ceremony. Each member must be oriented to the goals and ideals of Psi Chi prior to induction. In this manner, new members will realize that the oath taken at induction reflects their pledge of responsibility to our organization. Their commitment is paramount in achieving success. Members must understand that they have an active role in developing programming, making decisions, and providing service to the organization, campus, and community. It is through involvement that membership proves its worth. For members to remain involved they must be kept up to date on events through posting, e-mail conferences, and newsletters. Involvement should also be rewarded by honoring committed members.
Scholarship is the mortar that binds us together. It also remains as the highest ideal of Psi Chi and must be recognized and honored. Through induction, members receive recognition for their scholastic achievements within the field of psychology--but induction is only the beginning. Programming, such as lectures on how to get into graduate school and how to take the GRE, should be established to enhance the members' knowledge. The greatest goal of each chapter should be to create and maintain a large project such as an annual student research conference at which members can present their scholarly works. The conference which we sponsor is also interdisciplinary, allowing students from across the campus to present their works. For many this is their only opportunity to present. Each chapter should also attempt to sponsor individual members who present at other conferences. Last but not least, honor cords should have meaning; these should be given to graduating seniors as a sign of their outstanding scholarship and membership.
Fellowship allows members to grow within a community of individuals with similar goals and interests. Fostering fellowship allows for the exchange of ideas. The camaraderie of Psi Chi goes beyond just the membership of the chapter--it includes other chapters across the country. Achieving the ideal of building community starts with fun activities. We begin each semester with a picnic in a nearby park, at which both members and prospective members join the psychology faculty to enjoy an afternoon of leisure. We also hold hot dog/bake sales, which began as fundraisers but have grown into enjoyable social activities. Another activity that grew into a social event was the float we made for Homecoming. Although it did not receive any awards, the memories of putting it together and participating in the Homecoming parade will last a lifetime. At the end of the fall semester, we held a Christmas party at which honor cords were given to the graduating seniors who had participated in Psi Chi throughout the year. All of these activities have allowed us to get to know one another as individuals and as friends. We were also fortunate enough to make new friends within Psi Chi when we attended the Undergraduate Consortium in Experimental Psychology at the University of Memphis. Psychology students from all over the region visited, and we had an opportunity to hear what other Psi Chi chapters were doing. Our chapter is currently planning to create a Missouri Regional Conference for Psi Chi chapters so that sister chapters can meet for fellowship.
These four ideals of leadership, membership, scholarship, and fellowship have been the keys to building a successful Psi Chi chapter at Southeast Missouri State University.