English honor society cultivates students’ love for literacy


Have you ever wondered what an honor society is? Wonder no more, because Franciscan University of Steubenville’s English honor society is active and open to all students looking to delve deeper into literature and hone their writing skills in an academic setting. 

The English honor society at Franciscan is part of international organization Sigma Tau Delta, which was founded in 1924 and promotes literacy and love of literature all across the world. It has over 900 different chapters, including the one at Franciscan.  

John Pilsner, who holds a doctorate in comparative literature and has served as the society’s faculty sponsor for three years, said, “People are enhancing discipline while learning leadership skills (in the organization).” The club facilitates this experience through Franciscan’s local chapter meetings, annual conferences and academic journals, the latter of which are compositions of fiction and poetry, as well as literary criticism. 

The university’s local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta is called Omicron Iota, and it organizes events promoting literacy and the love of reading and writing. Pilsner said that the members of Omicron Iota “cultivate the love of literature and writing.” 

Omicron Iota hosts both poetry and thesis readings, and all of their events are centered on finding the beauty in literature and sharing that with others. 

For two years, the group has held a Saints and Spooks Halloween poetry night where students recite their favorite spooky or saintly poems. Last semester, Sigma Tau Delta also hosted a thesis presentation by one of its members on J.M. Barrie’s view on marriage. 

The president of Omicron Iota, senior Niamh-Marie Batstone, said that these events are helpful because “figuring out what (other writers) did can give you insight into what you want to write.” 

The society members brainstorm these events at their meetings. One event that Omicron Iota looks forward to at some point in the group’s future is a panel discussion about how to use an English education after graduation. The society plans to invite graduated English majors from diverse career paths to discuss with current students how to use an English degree in the workforce. 

The secretary and treasurer of Omicron Iota, senior Caroline Luehrmann, said, “The idea is to show career options that are opened up by English.”  

The English honor society is officially an academic club with formal meetings and fun events focused on topics of an academic nature. But in Batstone’s pithy words, “It’s good fun.” 

Even as an academic club, Sigma Tau Delta is laid-back and requires little commitment. Students interested in joining Sigma Tau Delta must submit an application in order to be accepted for official membership. Potential members also need to meet minimum academic requirements, including having a B grade average and having taken more than just the English core classes. But applying is worth it — membership lasts forever. 

Being a member of a national honor society comes with many benefits, such as scholarships, access to a variety of internships, a fuller resume and the ability to publish articles in journals. Applications are available in Pilsner’s office, Egan 268. However, Omicron Iota welcomes any and all students to its meetings and events. 

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