On April 21, Geneseo’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, inducted eighty-three new members. The half-hour ceremony highlighted accessibility and inclusivity, emphasizing that the honor society serves the entire English Department. Outgoing executive board president Nicole Callahan spoke to the chapter’s increased outreach efforts this year, including offering one-on-one connections to all new students in the department and significantly increasing our social media presence to help people feel connected and to get involved (see https://www.geneseo.edu/english/sigma-tau-delta).
Isabella Higgins discussed Sigma Tau Delta’s support for diversifying the Humanities curriculum, which included a petition recording student support for broadening and breaking from Geneseo’s menu of readings as well as a roundtable presentation at the annual convention where we shared local initiatives and solicited feedback from across the nation. More broadly, Sigma Tau Delta also endorses the Concerned Students Coalition’s List of Demands that would support BIPOC and traditionally underrepresented students on campus (https://speaks.geneseo.edu/?p=155). Beyond campus, our service project this year is to help The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming gather signatures of support for an inclusive community, as Jordyn Costello explained. People living with intellectual and developmental disabilities aare another group that has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic (https://tinyurl.com/yx79rr6z).
Professor Kristen Gentry spoke to this historical moment in a powerful, lyrical address, noting the induction as one of those small celebrations that, quoting Prince, help get us through this thing called Life. April 21 was the fifth anniversary of Prince’s death, a shocking loss that Professor Gentry connected to our traumatic past year of pandemic, racial tension, Black death at the hands of police, and mass shootings across the nation. Words, suggested Professor Gentry, are our solace and strength. Prince called life an “electric word,” and Professor Gentry added that “All words are electric. The words we write have the power to change lives. The way we interpret them has the power to change history. The words we speak have the power to manifest into reality. … Use electric words to make the world a better place than it was before you spoke, wrote, or read them.”
The induction closed with incoming president Georgia VanDerwater asking interested students to volunteer for next year’s e-board (contact Georgia at firstname.lastname@example.org) and with faculty sponsor Dr. Gillian Paku leading the pledge and remarking how the society has rallied in this difficult year around the STD motto: sincerity in our hopes for inclusivity and some necessary truth-speaking, alongside the craft and design of our creative and analytical work. We welcome the following students to the society and look forward to celebrating our chapter’s fiftieth anniversary in 2022:
Dong Won Oh