CHAPTERS IN ACTION
One of the ideals of Pi Gamma Mu is Social Service, and, as the ritual for initiation states, “The pursuit of our ideals requires giving freely, fully, and joyously of our time, talent, and energy. The fruit of our scholarship, science, and idealism is reaped through service to others for the benefit of all humanity, and this, in turn, requires the cooperation, dedication, passion and participation of all people and of all the social sciences.”
The members of Pi Gamma Mu are very generous with their time and talents. Look at some of the projects undertaken this past year: You might see one in which your chapter could participate.
The Maryland Theta chapter at University of Maryland - University College (UMUC) is unique in that most of its 90,000 students take classes online and many live abroad as members of the military. Reaching all of its talented members worldwide has been a challenge. It especially wants to recognize active-duty military members. The chapter has created a live online initiation ceremony, complete with virtual candle-lighting, so that students and their families around the globe may participate in the initiation ceremony. The ceremony was archived so that those who could not attend or watch in real time would be able to view the ceremony at their leisure.
The chapter has a Facebook page to keep connected with all the students. Members from around the world have posted their graduation pictures on Facebook, in which they proudly sport their honor cords and key pins. Facebook has allowed the chapter to spread news and alert members of upcoming events.
Maryland Theta also has a dedicated online classroom in which chapter business takes place. Faculty advisors and officers create conferences that allow students to discuss interesting topics such as career paths, job opportunities, research in social science, and service opportunities. A cash donation was made by the chapter to the American Association for People with Disabilities to help with its mission of creating internship opportunities for disabled young people across the country.
Another service project that Maryland Theta has adopted is the sponsorship of UMUC's annual social-science essay contest. The contest invites undergraduate students to submit essays in social science that are reviewed by four UMUC faculty members. The winner receives a student membership in a national social-science organization of his/her choice and a social-science book. Prizes are also offered for second and third place. Winning essays are presented at an annual student-achievement forum at UMUC.
For the past two years, this chapter has made "Operation Appreciation" its favorite cause. This project gathers toiletries and non-perishable items for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center. Initiates have brought goods to the initiation ceremony, and students overseas sent donations in the form of gift cards. Chapter members traveled to Walter Reed to present the donations in person. The chapter hopes to play a continuous role in this worthwhile cause.
Caitlin McCurdy of the Kansas Alpha chapter at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kans., chose as her senior leadership project to focus on the developmentally disabled. She developed a program consisting of four different events: Bowling Night, Bingo Night, Dance Night, and Boys/Girls-Night-Out. There were 128 participants and 61 Southwestern student volunteers.
At Mansfield University in Mansfield, Penn., the Pennsylvania Kappa chapter meets every other week during the semester to plan activities. The fall-semester events included a fund raiser selling homemade chocolate packets and cups of hot chocolate at a local festival. This required three days of work that included making homemade marshmallows. Gifts were purchased for two children in need at Christmas. The chapter supported a Boy Scout who was working on improving a local park for his Eagle project. Chapter members worked with other honor societies and social-science clubs to handle a university-wide food drive for Thanksgiving.
During the spring semester they provided support for the Annual Careers in Aging event, planning the conference, acting as host for the community and university, and giving a gift to the Alzheimer's organization.
Members of the chapter participated in the overnight walk for Relay for Life. They raised $150 for Relay for Life by selling chocolate. They worked with the Student Senate on Community Cleanup Day.
The Nebraska Delta chapter at Wayne State College (WSC) in Wayne, Neb., had another incredible year. It had its Book and Bake Sale featuring home-baked goods provided by the chapter members and books donated by the Wayne, Neb., community. The sale raised $417. The goal of this fundraiser was to support community-service projects and provide for travel to the Pi Gamma Mu conventions.
The chapter sponsored a Graduate School Workshop to provide information for students interested in continuing their education beyond their bachelor's degree. This was a come-and-go workshop that answered students' questions about what to expect, the application process and testing for graduate school.
The Pi Gamma Mu members hosted a speaker, Dr. Don Hickey, who portrayed Alexander Hamilton as a Living History figure. Colonel Hamilton explained his vision for America. The audience had the opportunity to ask questions of Colonel Hamilton after his presentation.
The members of this chapter, along with the WSC Student Senate, co-sponsored the 2010 Festival of Trees. This is a campus-wide holiday-season fundraiser founded by the chapter in 2004. Organizations from across campus were invited to decorate and display "themed" trees in the WSC Student Center. Passersby "voted" for their favorite tree by donating money to each organization's tree bucket. Collected funds were then evenly distributed throughout all participating organizations and used for gift purchases requested by local families in need (identified by Wayne Social Services). Nearly $400 in gifts were delivered to area families.
The chapter hosted its very popular social activity: "Faculty vs. Students Bowling Challenge.” Approximately 30 students and faculty members were in attendance at this world-class tussle, but no report of who won the challenge was received.
The chapter members hosted a presentation by Dr. Jean Karlen, WSC faculty member for 35 years. Dr. Karlen gave a final presentation on the eve of her retirement. She spoke about "The Teacher as Learner: Teaching as an Exercise in Humility.”
Nebraska Delta chapter members organized and hosted the year-end Social Sciences Banquet. The chapter planned all aspects of the banquet event, and coordinated retirement gifts and the ceremony for outgoing sociology-faculty member Dr. Jean Karlen. Dr. Karlen is a long-time sponsor of the chapter at WSC and past international president of Pi Gamma Mu.
At Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., the Missouri Omicron chapter enjoyed enthusiastic member involvement and many events were sponsored ranging from relaxed, informal student gatherings to foster camaraderie among social-science students to the Annual History Symposium.
During Homecoming Week festivities the chapter hosted an Alumni Reception for alumni of the Social Sciences Department. This provided an opportunity for current social-science students to meet and interact with graduates, and to learn first-hand of the many opportunities in the social sciences, in both post-graduate studies and employment, after graduation.
During the November election in 2010, the Missouri Omicron chapter staged a voter-awareness initiative. Students were encouraged to exercise their civic duties by voting in the state and federal elections. The voting process was explained, and sample ballots were given to students to prepare them for the voting process.
The chapter sponsored a current-events reception during which students had an opportunity to connect with each other and several of the social-science faculty members over refreshments. Following the refreshments, they engaged in a guided discussion of controversial current events -- namely, the use of enhanced security scanners and intensive searches at airports in light of the Fourth Amendment and the right to privacy. The event received much positive feedback from both students and faculty members, not only for the relevant discussion, but more so for the friendships promoted between fellow students and faculty members.
The chapter held a student movie night at the home of its faculty advisor, Dr. Luther Hall. The students enjoyed dinner together and the movie I am David, which relates the story of a young refugee from a Communist prison camp.
Last spring, the Missouri Omicron chapter hosted Susan Marcus, an author and experienced tour guide from Israel. Marcus gave an evening lecture on her variety of experiences as a tour guide in Israel, and offered a unique perspective on the unrest in the Israel-Palestine region.
Three members of the chapter were selected to attend the 18th annual Character and Leadership Symposium at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Spring, Colo. Briana Martin, Bailey Bollinger and Stephen Houseknecht attended this conference focused on "strength with, leadership throughout." Speakers included military veterans, including several Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, authors, businessmen, and other inspirational speakers.
The History Symposium, held annually by the Missouri Omicron chapter, provides a venue for undergraduate students to formally present their original research. The 2011 symposium featured presentations by four Missouri Omicron members, Briana Martin ("The Harsh Lives of Ozark Women in the Civil War"), Jonathan Hatter (a biographical sketch of Boris Yeltsin), Nickolas Boeser (an examination of the origins of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia), and Stephen Houseknecht (Operation Market-Garden, a critical battle of World War II). This symposium was exceptionally successful, and could be said to represent the pinnacle of the chapter's year.
The conclusion of the chapter’s 2010-11 year was the Missouri Omicron chapter's capstone event – the Social Science Banquet. During the banquet, a graduating member of the chapter is selected to receive the David C. Richardson Award (named in honor of a former professor who was influential in continuing the Missouri Omicron chapter at Evangel University). The award was presented to Nickolas Boeser. The Social Science Banquet concluded with the presentation of Pi Gamma Mu honor cords to all graduating members.
At Kent State University the Ohio Eta chapter hosted two successful fundraisers. One was a "Baggo" Tournament (i.e., Bean Bag Toss). This took place over Halloween weekend and graduate students and faculty members dressed up in costumes and teamed up against one another. The second fundraiser was more formal and involved a silent auction.
The chapter members hosted their annual banquet with guest speaker and criminologist Dr. Jack Levin. Dr. Levin's work has focused extensively on understanding and explaining the behavior and mentality of the most violent types of criminals including rapists, mass murderers, and serial killers. Before the banquet, Dr. Levin gave a lecture entitled "Hate Violence Goes to School," which was open to the entire university. The entire lecture hall was full of employees and students.
The Florida Eta chapter at the University of South Florida in Tampa had a busy year assisting the community. It gave $150 in McDonald's gift certificates to the Shriners' Hospital for Children, Tampa Unit. These certificates are used as presents and rewards.
The chapter supplied $30 worth of plants to the Ladies Shrine of North America to be used as door prizes at a fundraising event. A donation was also made to this group to help buy a therapy device designed to help kids learn how to walk. Project Return (www.projectreturn.org) was given $200. This organization helps mentally ill individuals.
At Bluefield State College in Bluefield, W. V., several members of the West Virginia Theta chapter assisted with a campus-beautification project. They assisted in the planting of trees and shrubs and spreading mulch to help improve the appearance of the campus.
Several members of the chapter completed internships or volunteer opportunities this past year. Sulayman Njie volunteered at a local organization that provides enrichment programs for underprivileged K-12 children. He was in the McNair Scholars Program and presented part of his senior research project at a McNair conference at the University of New Mexico. He is in the master's-degree program in international relations at Virginia Tech and was awarded a graduate assistantship there.
Caitlin Flanagan served as a Frasure-Singleton intern with the West Virginia House of Delegates. Several Pi Gamma Mu students attended the annual Higher Education Day at the state Legislature to gain first-hand knowledge of the state's legislative process and to meet with some of the local legislators. They were given a personal tour of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals to learn more about the state's judicial process.
Another member, Kelly Pawlowski, completed two internship experiences: one at the Washington, D.C., office of U. S. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D‑W. V.) and the other at the Bluefield office of U. S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D‑W. V.).
The chapter made a monetary donation to the Bluefield, Va., Rotary Club to support its scholarship fund for graduating high-school seniors in the local area.
At Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, Tex., the Texas Psi chapter collaborated with Safe Place (a domestic-abuse shelter) to raise awareness about domestic abuse. It hosted a fundraising rummage sale for Equality Texas, a Texas gay-rights lobby. It hosted two films – Lilies of the Field and Monster Ball – as part of the university's Black History Month activities. The members of the chapter held an Earth Day presentation made by Dr. Douglas La Follette, secretary of state of Wisconsin and one of the organizers of the first Earth Day. They held a pot-luck dinner for Pi Gamma Mu members and prospective members.
The Massachusetts Delta chapter at Wheelock College in Boston has, as in the past, been extremely community-service-oriented. The 15 members in the chapter were able to help a local preschool. Pi Gamma Mu members and the Wheelock community worked together to create over 85 birthday bags. Each colorful bag was filled with goodies including stickers, pencils, coloring pages, finger puppets, crayons, and other fun age-appropriate trinkets. The bags were then given to teachers to distribute to each child on her or his birthday. In addition, they brought the community together to sponsor five families from a low-income area and helped support them during the holiday season. The children of each family filled out "wish lists" of the things they needed and wanted. The Wheelock community then provided every child with each item that he or she listed and more! This made the holiday season brighter for 17 children and their families.
Throughout the year, they also participated with Crayons for Cancer. The mission of this Connecticut-based charity is to recycle old crayons into new ones, sell them, and use the profit to help ease the financial burdens of families whose children are currently suffering from the devastating effects of cancer.
They volunteered as part of the "Green Team" in Fenway Park during Red Sox games. They participated in an event called "Cards for Heroes" and made cards for men and women who are currently overseas and active in the military. Some of the members of this chapter helped out with the Joslin Diabetes Teddy Bear Clinic and the Ronald McDonald House of Boston. Furthermore, they collected substantial amounts of clothes, books, electronics and other donations; they donated these items to shelters and organizations in the Greater Boston area. At the end of last year, with leftover money (about $300), they bought hygiene products, towels, and other essential materials and donated them to a local women's shelter in Roxbury, Mass.
At Western Carolina University (WCU) in Cullowhee, N. C., the North Carolina Lambda chapter invited Michael Duvall, county manager of Graham County, to talk about jobs in the public sector as well as educational requirements. The chapter sponsored a mini-series on political trends with a local radio station. Two professors from the political-science department at WCU were questioned on political trends and the Tea Party movement. The chapter made two donations to the Dr. C. Don Livingston scholarship for social-science students by soliciting donations. A total of $400 was raised for this project. The chapter gave $100 to Care Net, which has a soup kitchen. The chapter solicited from students and employees for the Pi Gamma Mu Japanese Relief Effort and $150 was raised. It gave $50 to REACH to help with domestic violence. It also gave $50 to the Humane Society for animal protection.
The Virginia Epsilon chapter at Radford University in Radford, Va., awarded Elizabeth Rizzuto the annual Pi Gamma Mu Scholarship. The current amount of the annual scholarship is just over $1500. The chapter contributed another $1000 to the endowed scholarship fund. One annual project of the chapter is raising funds to support the Measles Initiative of the American Red Cross. This year the funds were specifically provided to the Red Cross Japanese Disaster Fund.
At Campbell University in Buies Creek, N. C., the North Carolina Mu chapter hosted Scott Mason of WRAL-TV. He presented a visual and sound presentation titled “Tarheel Traveler, Journey's Across North Carolina.” Mr. Mason held a book signing after the event, giving students and faculty members an opportunity to purchase a signed copy of his book, Tarheel Traveler.
The Florida Theta chapter at Barry University in Miami Shores, Fla., met each month to discuss activities, plan and gather for pizza. The Pi Gamma Mu students presented a PowerPoint presentation at an on-campus conference called "Soulful Citizenship.” Their panel was called "From the Farm to the Grocery Store: Decreasing the Social Distance between Agricultural Laborers and Consumers.” The students' part was based on service/volunteer work they did with the Immokalee Workers Coalition. They organized a film and fundraiser for "Invisible Children" (for awareness of child slavery in Africa).
Pace University's New York Tau chapter has set up an online Blackboard Community to facilitate communications among members of the chapter.The Dr. Elizabeth J. Lott Memorial Scholarship Fund in Economics was inaugurated at Pace University by the New York Tau chapter during 2004-2005, following the murder of this distinguished professor. The fund has grown and earned sufficiently that awards have been made for five years.
Dr. Edward Tseng, currently national executive director of Kwan Fong Institute and roving lecturer, visited Pace as New York Tau mentor, giving talks, holding classroom conversations, and administering Pi Gamma Mu initiations. His topics included Asian and comparative politics, international issues, political thinking, “Masks – Truths Behind Asian Faces (China, Korea and Japan),” tools of international relations, international organization and law, “Blood in the Squares: Tiananmen and Tahrir-I and II,” “Might Makes Right!? – Is Authoritarianism Obsolete?,” “The Good Political Life in the 21st Century,” “Brazil and Somalia: Worlds Apart – I and II,” “Southern Hemisphere – For Better or for Worse?,” political leaders who changed the world, democracy and socialism, varieties of ideologies, “Japanese Nationalism – I and II,” and “China and Japan – Friend or Foe?” Dr. Tseng has visited more than 65 countries, has been a prolific writer, and has led over 20 study tours to East Asia and Central America. As an environmentalist, his advocacy has extended to Panda bears and white Chinese freshwater dolphins.
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