New psychology club in works to become Psi Chapter


From yelling on the overpass to comprehensive information on the safe use of sex toys – clubs on campus have it all. The Psychology Club, a recent addition, seeks to build a space for like-minded individuals with an interest in the field.

The Psychology Club was initiated by thesis-student Constantine Dhonau and is currently sponsored by Professor of Psychology Steven Graham. The original plan was to create a chapter of the prestigious Psi Chi Honor Society. Along with being internationally recognized, Psi Chi links students to grants and awards and is affiliated with other organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Psychological Science (APS). The requirements for starting a chapter at a university include being a fully accredited four-year institution and offering a degree in psychology. However, Psi Chi also requires that there be an organized group on campus that has been in existence for at least a year.

“What we decided to do was to start the Psychology Club that we view as both a combination of enriching the student understanding of psychology and related issues, and providing some contacts for social interaction with other people who are interested in psychology,” Graham said.

The club plans to go on field trips, host speakers and show movies at Bon Seigneur Hall. They are also thinking of hosting a dinner for this year’s seniors graduating with a psychology area of concentration (AOC), and creating a panel of graduating seniors who would offer thesis advice to lower year students.

Graham noted that the club would delve into topics not typically discussed in the psychology curriculum. “One of the first things that we’re doing is listening to a ‘This American Life’ podcast that talks about how homosexuality was removed from the DSM [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders],” Graham said. “That is something that is unlikely to appear in any of our courses but it is something that is an important piece of history within psychology. And so it provides students an opportunity to talk about something like that.”

One of the requirements for members of a Psi Chi chapter is a minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA). New College’s written evaluation grading system could potentially pose a problem. However, club members are confident this technicality will be bypassed.

“I’m pretty sure New College will qualify anyways, we just have to make an argument,” Dhonau said. “We are the honors college of Florida, so we should be fine. We have a higher workload and our academic program is a little bit more rigorous.”

An additional setback has to do with funding – since the club was established in the second semester of the school year, its potential to receive allocations may be limited. Despite this, the club is hopeful that it will remain a presence on campus with its primary goal being to establish a sense of community among psychology AOCs.

“We don’t have an honor society, we also don’t have any extracurricular psychology anything,” Dhonau added. “We have a Psychology Senior Seminar, which is a class that all psych thesis students are required to take. So the entirety of your thesis year, you are in the room with as many as thirty other psych thesis students. And that is something that is unique to campus. […] It’s definitely been very helpful going through the thesis and work shopping and staying on time and making deadlines and having other people around to kind of push you. So if we could kind of make that something that is not exclusive to thesis students, I’d think that’d be really good.”
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