Dishonorable behavior

Corruption within honors societies

Megan Raynor, Staff Writer

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As the end of the school year approaches, many final deadlines are assigned and students become frantic trying to turn everything in on time. The end of the year is truly the busiest time of the year as everyone is trying to salvage motivation to turn in their assignments, keep their grades up, and study for final exams, despite the anticipation of summer fun that awaits. In addition to assignments and exam preparation, many upperclassman face deadlines to turn in their hours for National Honors Societies in order to secure their membership for the ability to wear an honor chord at graduation. Unfortunately, the impending deadline of a minimum amount of volunteer hours in these societies often defeats the true purpose behind volunteering.

Most honors societies at East Lake High School require a minimum of about ten hours of volunteering per semester. While the requirement is positive since it requires students to go out in the community and volunteer their time, it can often cause an individual’s true motivation behind volunteering to diminish. This phenomena is described in psychology as the over justification effect, which is defined by https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/ as “the process by which intrinsic interest in some activity or behavior is supplanted through the presentation of an extrinsic reward. This leads to the ironic and surprising result that rewarding a behavior can inhibit future repetitions of that behavior.” Being a member of an honor society is truly an honor because not everyone is always accepted. The main goal of these societies is to improve the community through the volunteer services of members. Unfortunately, partially due to the over justification effect, this goal is often distorted and members lose sight of the purpose behind volunteering. This may result in a lack of passion towards volunteering to bettering the community, and in some cases, students end up forging their hours altogether to avoid actually volunteering.

Ultimately, the end of the year has become a time in which students are frantically trying to accumulate volunteer hours in order to remain a member of their school’s honors societies. The requirement of hours has created the over justification effect in students that are members and has even become a source of cheating among members who forge their hours. Senior CJ Cavaliere has coordinated many volunteer events through which students could earn volunteer hours for their honors societies, and he states, “The amount of times someone has mentioned forging their hours to me is ridiculous. People do not realize the impact they can have on the community through simply dedicating their time to volunteering.” There may be no simple solution to this issue; however, through checking member’s hours and increasing the prestige of honors societies the lack of passion behind volunteering may be restored among students.

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