RSCO Feature: Sigma Tau Delta

Nadine Fox, Contributing writer

Sigma Tau Delta is a nationally recognized academic organization specializing in English, on campus here at Mercyhurst. Sigma Tau Delta is an International English Honor Society that was founded in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University, to confer distinction for high achievement in English language, literature, and writing; and to foster literacy and all aspects of the discipline of English. With over 850 chapters in colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad, Sigma Tau Delta is the most active honors organization in the English field and one of the largest members of the Association of College Honor Societies.

In addition to the prestige of membership, there are many other benefits of affiliation. There are thousands of dollars in scholarship and award opportunities, regional and national conferences, and internship and publication possibilities. One especially noteworthy benefit of membership is that students are invited to submit papers for presentation at Sigma Tau Delta’s annual spring convention, held each year in one of the Society’s six regions of the country. Students are selected to present their work in this national venue and also have the opportunity to win convention writing awards and to attend presentations and workshops by nationally recognized authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ursula Le Guin, and U.S. Poet Laureates Natasha Trethewey and Kay Ryan. Dr. Rieger says, “Many of our past members have been accepted,

presented, and several have won awards for their submissions to conventions in Portland, Oregon, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh. It is a thrill to have a student win an award because it is announced at the big dinner attended by hundreds of attendees. Our Mercyhurst table is so excited to hear the name of one of our own.”

Mercyhurst’s local chapter is called the Beta Upsilon Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta. Alongside the advisor Christine Rieger, officers organize the induction ceremony for the spring semester and plan Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day parties for the whole department. They also organize fundraising events such as Literary Bingo. Dr Rieger added, “During the height of the pandemic, they sponsored Zoom trivia and movie nights, which were vital for keeping us connected. In past years, members attended the Sigma Tau Delta conference to present their literary criticism or creative writing. Representing Mercyhurst at this venue is an honor because the number of submissions make acceptance competitive. Students are currently submitting work to judges for possible presentation at the conference in March at Atlanta. On my part as advisor, I volunteer as a reading judge for the national organization. I will receive anonymous student essays from United States chapters and score them.”

Sigma Tau Delta recently organized a department Halloween party on Oct.28. According to Dr. Christy Rieger, one of the professors from the English department, “Officers Emma Coppola, Ashley Carr, Sarah Sebald, and Victoria McGinty just organized our department Halloween party, which was a great time. We had Halloween music, takeaway treat bags, spooky and department-themed Kahoots, the costume judging costume with prizes, and games.

The officers are now turning their attention to the St. Patrick’s Day party, planning the induction, and fundraising for their trip to Atlanta. Soon they are looking to find out how many students are accepted in December!