Sigma Delta Pi maintains the importance and value of in-person/face-to-face (F2F) initiation ceremonies and chapter events as personal interaction may reinforce members’ involvement and relationships with other members, faculty and the broader college community. However, COVID-19’s impact on higher education in early 2020 also prompted many creative alternatives for the productive, remote engagement of our members. Pandemics, epidemics, isolated cases of illnesses, students studying abroad, and other scenarios that prevent F2F interaction, are circumstances whereby a chapter may choose to engage its members remotely, to include the initiation of new members among other chapter activities. Our national by-laws specify that “A neophyte must be initiated personally, not by proxy, and shall be admitted only if he/she arrives in time for the beginning of the ceremony.” Remote inductions via Zoom and other video conferencing platforms still satisfy this requirement. Furthermore and beyond the initiation of new members, when necessary chapter activities could be successfully conducted remotely, to include poetry recitals, lecture series, student presentations, and chapter-sponsored tutoring, among many other possibilities.
Listed below are guidelines and policies related to conducting remote initiation ceremonies and other chapter activities. In addition, there will be opportunities to participate in national remote activities that will be announced to all chapters and active members.
Prior to the remote ceremony
- Confirm all qualifying members who wish to become members. For Sigma Delta Pi membership (4-year colleges), consult the Society’s national by-laws for membership criteria, namely Article III, Section 3.0 for “active membership.” For SHLE membership (2-year colleges), consult the respective national by-laws for membership criteria, namely Article III, Section 3.0 or “active membership.”
- For grades earned as P/F (pass/fail), a “P” (pass) grade may count toward qualification depending upon how the home institution counts the “P” grade toward the GPA. Generally a “P” grade does not impact the GPA, therefore in such cases the adviser would simply count the corresponding classes toward the membership requirements for credit hours and types of courses needed.
- Order and prepare ceremony materials to include membership packets (pins and certificates) and appropriate ceremony table items for display; a small desk/table in an office will suffice for this purpose.
- Schedule the virtual ceremony in a space that has internet access and an operable webcam.
- Work with your institution’s IT department to determine best software for video conferencing with multiple users: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, etc. Once determined, test the software prior to your ceremony.
- Confirm that your student candidates for membership have access to the selected software and are familiar with its use. Provide them with details related to the scheduled ceremony such as access instructions.
- For Sigma Delta Pi initiations, determine in advance which version of the ritual is more appropriate for your particular event: see the Ritual (click here for access); to access the ritual, e-mail National@sigmadeltapi.org for the access code. For SHLE inductions (2-year colleges), only one version of the Ritual is available.
- Plan the ceremony details with chapter officers prior to the event, and provide candidates adequate instructions in preparation for their induction. Be sure to review the Ritual prior to executing the remote ceremony and make small adjustments as necessary since many of the F2F practices cannot be managed remotely: for example, sitting in a semicircle, retrieving membership items, signing the registry.
- Prepare the membership certificates per the instructions included in the mailing. Remember that the adviser or home academic department must complete the certificate templates with the initiate’s information. The national office can not send initiation materials directly to students. Also, blank certificates may not be issued to students as it is the chapter’s responsibility to complete the membership certificates prior to the induction of new members.
Remote collection of membership dues
With remote teaching being instituted on many campuses this fall, and possibly through the entire 2020-21 academic year, arranging student payments for membership dues may be a challenge, especially since students are not permitted to pay the national office directly, and some advisers may not have campus access. Therefore, advisers and students may use Venmo. If you are not familiar with this service, please review the following: https://venmo.com/about/product/. Venmo, which has become more pervasive over the past 6 months, is an app that can be accessed through a smartphone or through the Venmo website to transfer money quickly and safely.
To utilize this collection method, advisers will first need to set up a personal Venmo account. The appropriate amount to collect from each member should then be determined by visiting our online store. Qualifying SDP candidates can then be notified and pay membership dues directly to the adviser’s account.
Once dues are collected from students using the adviser’s Venmo account, the adviser can either pay the entire order with a credit card, mail a personal or institution’s check for the entire amount, or send the money using Venmo to Sigma Delta Pi’s own Venmo account. Details for making payments are provided during checkout.
Because some advisers may not have access to campus, orders may be shipped to their home address. Orders cannot be shipped to individual students because the adviser must fill out the membership certificates. We suggest that advisers keep the certificates and pins for the students and distribute them once students return to campus. If the students will be graduating before in-person classes resume, the adviser may include the materials with other graduation items the college or university will be distributing to graduates.
During the ceremony
- Display a Sigma Delta Pi (or SHLE as appropriate) poster or banner behind you during the video ceremony to reinforce the event’s purpose.
- Zoom Backgrounds are available. CLICK HERE.
- As done with the F2F ceremonies, play some appropriate Hispanic music in the background (e.g., classical guitarist Andrés Segovia)
- When reading the name of each initiate, hold up their printed certificate in front of the webcam along with a membership pin.
After the ceremony
- Plan to either mail the membership certificates and pins to the students, or arrange for their in-person retrieval when feasible. In many cases, mailing might be the only reasonable option.
- Work with your marketing/public relations department to announce as appropriate the video induction of your new members.
- For those video-inducted members who will eventually return to campus, arrange an appropriate reception in the department to recognize their Sigma Delta Pi or SHLE membership. At this time, the red carnations (for Sigma Delta Pi members) may be distributed to new members, who in turn may sign the registry. Candles may also be integrated into this reception at the discretion of the adviser.
Remind all students who are inducted remotely, and all involved with this important recognition, that despite the unique modality of the initiation, their membership is no less meaningful than those initiated before them. All Sigma Delta Pi and SHLE members satisfy the same high national standards and being confirmed for membership is an honor that ALL current members of the Society equally share along with the same available benefits afforded to ALL members:
Sigma Delta Pi: https://sigmadeltapi.org/about/member-benefits/.
Remote Events: Local
Organizing and scheduling chapter events such as poetry recitals, guest lectures, tertulias, tutoring services, etc., require the same degree of preparation as the F2F modality with the exception that remote events can actually encourage greater attendance due to the convenience. Your chapter’s adequate advertising with instructions for participation is key to executing a successful online event that engages not only your Sigma Delta Pi or SHLE members, but also the broader college community. COVID-19 forced all of us to become Zoom savvy quickly, which in turn presents wonderful opportunities for your chapter to add a new dimension to its schedule of events regardless of the circumstances; even without a pandemic impacting your campus, remote events can enhance a chapter’s traditional F2F activities.
Remote Events: National
The national office may host various remote activities throughout the year to include special award ceremonies, anniversary commemorations, poetry readings, lectures, etc. Such events will be announced to all chapters via e-mail and social media, and Zoom information will be shared directly with chapter advisers, student chapter officers, and national officers. Local chapters are encouraged to share details of these events with all local Sigma Delta Pi or SHLE members.
Share Your Chapter’s Successes: Remote Activities
Consider sharing details about the successes of your own chapter’s remote activities or ideas that bolstered your online ceremonies. Send to National@sigmadeltapi.org.