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Sigma Tau Delta Chapter attends national conference
By Leigh Rice
Monday, April 25, 2011
The Talon 3
Four members of William
Woods University’s Eta Mu
Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta
attended the national conference
in Pittsburgh, Pa., March 23-26.
Students Andrea Weed, Erin
Crooks, Jenny Kesel and Leigh Rice
were accompanied by Dr. Erik
Hillskemper, chapter sponsor and
assistant professor of English.
In addition to members of Sigma
Tau Delta, convention participants
included representatives of
Sigma Kappa Delta from two-year
colleges and the National English
Honor Society from high schools.
Sigma Tau Delta, an
international English honor
society, was established in
1924 to confer distinction upon
students of the English language
and literature in undergraduate,
graduate and professional studies.
Chapters have been established
at colleges and universities in the
U.S., Europe, the Middle East and
the Caribbean.
The honor society conducts
community service projects that
foster literacy and all aspects of
the discipline of English, including
literature, language and writing.
At WWU, Sigma Tau Delta
organizes a book sale and a
Young Writer’s Competition for
elementary and middle
school students.
Speakers at the convention
included authors and poets Lorene
Cary, Dave Eggers, Kay Ryan and
Jacqueline Woodson.
William Woods students had the
opportunity to hear Ryan speak,
have their books autographed and
a picture taken with her.
The students visited numerous
sessions, where they observed
English majors from other
universities read their
original works.
“It was great seeing where we
compared to other chapters,” said
Weed, a senior.
Eta Mu members also attended
panel discussions and workshops
where they gathered information
on event planning, grant writing,
what to do with a B.A. in English
and much more.
New air vests improve rider safety
By Dani Moritz
In an ongoing effort to make
riders of jumping horses safer, Dr.
Linda McClaren, hunter/
jumper instructor,
engineered a pilot
program that
utilizes safety
vests for riders
to wear.
The solution:
14 air vests,
both purchased
and donated,
thanks to the
efforts of Claudia
Starr, chair of
the equestrian
studies division.
The air
vests, which
were primarily
researched in
Asia and Europe,
inflate when riders fall and support
vital structures in the chest, sides,
hips, back and neck.
According to McClaren, the
biggest difference between these
vests and others of its kind is
the protection of the neck and,
consequently, the head.
“I chose them mostly because of
the neck protection and because of
the cost,” she said. “They’re far less
expensive [than most equestrian
vests used in the U.S.]. They’ve
been around a lot longer and
have been used with motorcycles
which go a lot and faster and are
a lot closer to the ground. If they
worked for those people, I think
they’re going to work for us.”
So far, McClaren has been
pleased with the results.
“Every time [last semester] we
went to the cross country field or
if we were jumping I asked the
students to wear them and they
were all very amenable to that. We
got to the end of the semester and
something unusual occurred. No
one got hurt.”
However, despite the vest’s
apparent successes, she has
not been able to make them a
requirement because the school’s
attorneys say there is not enough
current research backing them.
In response, McClaren has begun
pursuing a research project in
which some of her students have
opted to participate.
In addition to tallying what
happens with the vests during
classes, McClaren has been utilizing
a focus group of six students that
meets once a month to discuss
topics such as the vest’s safety,
overall student attitude towards
the vests and the students’
personal experiences with them.
Sophomore Sarah Keylon, a
member of the focus group, says
that student attitude is becoming
more and more positive as they
begin to see how the air
vests work. She, herself, has
become a huge proponent
and has even purchased
her own.
“I love them,” she said.
“They obviously can’t protect
you 100 percent because
there are some parts of the
body that are
exposed, but they
protect all your
body organs and
greatly reduce the
chances of injury
if you fall off. I
think they’re a
great thing
to have.”
Keylon wears
them for both jumping
and flat work and
wishes more seats at
WWU would utilize
them, as horseback
riding is dangerous no
matter what seat
is ridden.
Many students
have come to similar
conclusions, like senior
Keriann Walsh.
“I thought it was a good idea
the whole time, but was a little
skeptical at first whether they
really worked. They’ve proven that
they have, so I’m even more for it.”
Other students, like freshman
Rebekah Savage, have decided
to go a slightly different route by
purchasing her own protective vest
to use during her riding classes.
“I wanted my own vest to wear
both at home and at school so I
purchased my own Tipperary Vest,
which was an affordable option for
me,” said Savage.
Still, McClaren will continue to
research the vests in hopes that
she can install a policy requiring
them to be worn. It is her goal that
by next spring she will see all her
students wearing them.
“I’m just trying to keep them
safe,” she said. “Riding horses is
dangerous. Riding horses to jumps
at speed is dangerous, and I don’t
think there’s any question that
riding horses is a dangerous sport.
“Anything I can do or come
up with to improve the chances
of those guys staying safe while
they’re pursuing a sport that they
love, I’m going to try to do it.”
Crooks, a junior, said, “I would
like to see the William Woods
chapter become so involved
with Sigma Tau Delta that our
chapter is presenting at panels
and sessions.”
During their free time, Eta Mu
members had the opportunity to
see Pittsburgh.
Members tasted a variety
of food, including Indian and
Mediterranean. They also
experienced Primanti Bros.
Restaurant, a Pittsburgh tradition
since 1933.
Students also saw the Carnegie
Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum
of Natural History, Carnegie
Science Center and the Andy
Warhol Museum.
“It was nice to show our
students that being an English
major is more than reading
books,” says Hillskemper.
Members of Eta Mu hope to
attend next year’s Sigma Tau Delta
convention in New Orleans.
Miranda Weber jumps wearing one of the new, infatable vests. In the
case of a fall, the entire vest would infate.
Student Alumni
Council Awards
Outstanding Freshmen
AnneMarie Connelly
Catherine Fuhs
Taylor Oestreich
Outstanding Sophomores
Ilana Archuleta
Lucas Watson
Katherine Wortmann
Outstanding Juniors
Jessica Bargate
Zach Hurst
Andrea Weed
Outstanding Seniors
Lisa Burke
Ann DeHart
Nicole Elliott
Liza Payne
Melanie White
Ashley Dorion models a new safety vest. She was the frst
rider to enjoy the benefts of the air-bag technology.