To keep its "active" status in the national organization a chapter must do only two things:
- initiate members at least once in each academic year, provided there are eligible students, and
- submit an annual report to the National Office.
Beyond these basic requirements, the 600+ chapters of Pi Sigma Alpha exhibit a wide range of activity levels. Some are very busy and visible in their departments, holding regular meetings, sponsoring seminars and receptions, and generally making the most of their organizations. At the other end of the continuum are many chapters, particularly some of those on very large campuses with big commuter populations, whose only activity from year to year is the selection and initiation of new members.
Although the more dynamic a chapter is the more benefit students derive from membership in it, no chapter should ever be allowed to lapse into oblivion because it cannot sustain as much activity as some other chapters. Students should at least be given the opportunity for academic recognition provided by membership in Pi Sigma Alpha even if their connection with the society never goes beyond the initiation ceremony.
Chapters sometimes go through cycles, with years of vigor followed by a temporary slump. This may be the result of a chapter advisor's sabbatical, a campus move in which the PSA records are temporarily misplaced, a missed communication between outgoing and incoming chapter officers as to what needs to be done, or some other disturbance in the rhythm and continuity of the chapter's usual activities. Students and chapter advisors need not be discouraged if this seems to have happened on their campus, but should keep the flame burning at whatever level they can -- at least by initiating a new group of members -- and take steps to reactivate their chapter. If a set of bylaws, a bank account, and a file of chapter records are in place their job will be easier, and a call to the National Office will bring them up to date on recent mailings and other useful administrative information.
The following pages describe some areas to review when assessing Chapter activity level and also may provide some ideas for fostering increased participation:
- Chapter Organization and Management
- Regular Meetings and Special Events
- Raising Money
- Membership Certificate Requests
- Honorary Members
- Jewelry, Medallions, Mugs
- Annual Reports
- Grants Competitions and Awards
- Publicizing the Chapter and Inviting New Members
Most of the following ideas for chapter activities were taken from Pi Sigma Alpha chapters' annual reports and other communications.
- Conduct a freshman mentor program for incoming students, focusing on important college survival and interpersonal skills; also useful for recruiting future chapter members and leaders;
- Arrange community service projects, such as volunteers for homeless shelters, discussion groups at senior citizens centers or nursing homes, Thanksgiving food drives, and holiday parties for underprivileged children;
- Sponsore campus-wide programs with speakers, debates, or panel discussions; inviting speakers from outside the university, especially local elected officials and public servants; perhaps co-sponsoring meetings with other campus groups or outside groups such as the League of Women Voters;
- Publish a student journal, perhaps including a competition for best papers, to foster good writing and research as well as editorial skills;
- Host a statewide or regional conference for PSA members or for political science students generally;
- Organize model U.N. debates or mock congressional debates;
- Help a retiring faculty member organize his or her books and journals for donation to a library in a developing country;
- Compile and distribute a "voter's guide" for local elections; put on mock candidate debates or sponsore real candidate debates;
- Organize a visit to the state capitol, either for chapter members or local high school students;
- Send students to regional or state political science association meetings; organize poster sessions for these meetings;
- Hold career Days, with information on graduate schools, LSAT and GRE review courses, speakers on careers in political science;
- Organize tutorial programs for political science students.
For other chapter program ideas, see the Chapter Activity Grants section.Questions about chapter organization and management, and Pi Sigma Alpha awards, may be directed to the National Office via email: email@example.com.