LU gets poli-sci honor society

Vanessa Weller

The perks of going to a larger state school, such as departmental honor societies and specified honors classes, are not always practical or even offered at Lawrence.
Although some could argue that every class taken at Lawrence is of the honors level anyway, the government department will amend a problem that has bothered certain government majors in the past: the lack of an honor society.
By next year, they hope to have a fully functioning chapter of the national political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.
Jen Vagle became the principal organizer of Lawrence’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha this year when she found out the government department had no honor society.
“I was talking to a friend of mine who is an anthropology major,” said Vagle. “She mentioned being a part of the anthropology department’s honor society, and that made me wonder if there wasn’t an honor society for government majors as well.”
Vagle decided to amend the problem by contacting the national headquarters. “From there I talked to the government department,” she recalls. “It took a whole term to send in the papers and contact everyone who was interested.”
Pi Sigma Alpha was founded at the University of Texas in 1920. Since then, over 615 schools have established chapters.
According to the society’s national brochure, the honor society is for juniors and seniors majoring in government or political science who maintain at least a B average, have completed at least 15 quarter hours or ten semester hours, and have an overall academic standing in the upper third of the college class.
Because of Lawrence’s trimester system, membership eligibility will be slightly altered. Benefits of membership for government majors include scholarships and grants for political science graduate study, regional and state lectures in political science, and the chance to be published in various political science journals.
“Starting the chapter [of Pi Sigma Alpha] at Lawrence is exciting,” said Vagle. “We have an excellent government department and I feel that students can take advantage of it with an honor society.”
Before the year is out, Vagle, along with chapter advisor Assistant Professor Mark Frazier, will write the chapter bylaws, determine electing offices and develop awareness, which she says, “hopefully includes forums and speakers coming to Lawrence.”
The honor society held its charter member induction ceremony last week, admitting nine students: Kevin Cooper-Fenske, Micha Jackson, Matthew Lineal, Daniel Paltzer, Michale Sheckleford, Pete Snyder, Markus Specks, Thomas Van De Laarschot and Vagle.
Three faculty members were also admitted to Pi Sigma Alpha: Frazier, Associate Professor Claudena Skran, and Assistant Professor Steven Wulf.
Assistant professor William Hixon, who already held membership, conducted the ceremony along with visiting professor and previous Pi Sigma Alpha member Bryan Brophy-Baermann.