Sigma Tau Delta promotes high achievement in English

The Baylor chapter of Sigma Tau Delta seeks to promote literature, writing and the written word in the Baylor community. Photo courtesy of Sigma Tau Delta

By Maya Butler | Staff Writer

The letters of Sigma Tau Delta follow the same Greek alphabet as fraternities and sororities, but the organization plays a different role on campus — as a nearly century-old English Honor Society.

Sigma Tau Delta started in 1924 at Dakota Wesleyan University, with Baylor forming its own chapter less than five years later. The honor society currently has over 900 international active chapters with the shared mission of fostering academic excellence in the English language.

Like its international entity, the Baylor chapter of Sigma Tau Delta seeks to promote literature, writing and the written word in the Baylor community. The honor society offers plenty of opportunities through membership for college students, including scholarships, internships and the chance for publication in its journalsThe Rectangle and The Sigma Tau Delta Review.

Faculty sponsor Dr. Tara Foley, a lecturer in the English department, talked about the benefits of students joining the honor society.

“I think one of the great things is they can meet other English, linguistics [and] professional writing majors,” Foley said. “It’s a great way to meet like-minded people.”

Topeka, Ind., senior and president of Sigma Tau Delta Courtney Young cites the community within Baylor’s chapter as her favorite aspect as a member.

“I don’t think I would have talked to this many English majors my entire life if it would not have been for Sigma Tau Delta,” Young said. “Even in English classes, a lot of the times you end up with the same people because they’re so small, so when you have a group of people who are in the English department, then it expands to everyone.”

Sigma Tau Delta at Baylor has existed since the chapter’s creation in the late 1920s, with current members attempting to establish a larger presence on campus. Recently, it hosted for the first time with the Baylor Literary Society a Halloween-themed escape room challenge for students. Proceeds went toward Benetech’s Bookshare Initiative, the chapter’s philanthropy for this year.

Young explained the importance of Baylor’s chapter participating in community outreach.

“I think that’s important, especially here in Waco, because a lot of the schools are underfunded,” Young said. “When we do our fundraisers, we send some of them money for books so the classrooms have a better chance of promoting literacy.”

Students do not need to be English majors to qualify for Sigma Tau Delta, as long as they have completed a minimum of two English courses that extend beyond the regular requirements of a non-English track. Other requirements include having a minimum of a B in English and completing at least three college semesters before applying for membership.

Lubbock senior and public relations officer Caitlyn Rush discussed the impact of having a long-lasting English honor society on campus.

“I think it just shows that there’s a lot of brilliant students in the department,” Rush said. “There’s a lot of us that really care about English and literacy and making sure people are involved with that side, as well as the sciences and math. It makes a well-rounded picture.”