Membership in NEHS is an honor bestowed on individuals selected for their accomplishments in the field of English and in overall academic achievement. The NEHS Constitution sets forth as minimum requirements for active membership the following:
- attendance at the school the equivalent of one semester prior to being considered. (If special circumstances merit, the Faculty Advisory Council may waive the semester regulation),
- completion of the equivalent of two semesters of English prior to induction as members,
- the achievement of a minimum overall and English grade point average of a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) prior to induction as members, and
- completion of an application process.
These criteria may be raised, but not lowered, by the local chapter, but criteria must be based on demonstrable academic matters. Membership criteria must be detailed in Chapter Bylaws and published to the school community prior to member selection.
Criteria always must be applied consistently. For example, one may not have a higher GPA for seniors than for juniors, for juniors than for sophomores. Nor may one base selection on a quota or percentage of members in a class. One might, however, use weighted grades in recognition of the varying degrees of difficulty of courses of study; if weighted grades are used, doing so must be determined prior to announcing the chapter's minimum GPA requirement in order to identify all students who meet the criteria. In such situations the Faculty Advisory Council must make available, in its published materials concerning selection, its rationale for higher standards.
When/if raising the GPA requirement above the 3.0 minimum, all changes must be made formally by and through the Faculty Advisory Council even if the changes originate by the administration or the body of current members.
The Faculty Advisory Councils of schools with individualized, non-graded, pass-fail or other non-traditional grading systems must determine ways to identify those students who meet the requirements, and provide a rationale for the determination; this must be included in the published material concerning membership criteria and selection.
There are three categories of membership:
Candidates for active membership must first be selected by the Faculty Advisory Council and then inducted in a special ceremony. Active members have a voice and vote in chapter affairs, are expected to maintain the eligibility standards by which they were selected for membership, and also to assume any membership obligations that may be set by the local chapter and announced prior to induction. Active members must maintain the stated membership requirements and may not be removed from membership except for reasons stated below under "Loss of Membership."
This membership is automatically afforded active members upon their graduation. Alumni members, in accordance with school policy, may be invited to participate in chapter events, but have no voice or vote in chapter decisions. As they are no longer within the jurisdiction of the chapter's Faculty Advisory Council, alumni members may not be removed from membership except for flagrant violation of civil laws.
Each chapter, working with the Faculty Advisory Council, may invite into membership select individuals who might not otherwise be eligible for membership. Such individuals may include school officials, teachers, and adults, as well as students whose accomplishments in English and/or in NEHS related activities merit special recognition.
Honorary members, in accordance with school policy, may attend chapter meetings, but have no voice or vote in chapter decisions. They are permitted to wear the insignia and to receive a membership certificate, and their names should be kept on permanent file with other chapter records.
The Chapter Advisor(s) is, ex officio, an honorary member, but the chapter may select other appropriate individuals as well. Honorary memberships, other than that provided the Chapter Advisor(s), require payment of the national induction fee and are not subject to removal from membership except for flagrant violation of civil laws.
Each new member pays a one-time induction fee of $15.00, which covers processing of membership records and the preparation of a national membership certificate. Once the membership is processed, all the rights of membership—including eligibility for scholarships and writing awards, participation in regional and national events, and access to the NEHS Museletter are open.
NEHS is sensitive to the wide variety of economic conditions of students throughout the Society and seeks to structure fees in such a way that no eligible student is excluded from membership because of economic inability to pay the one-time enrollment fee. If a Chapter Advisor determines that one or more potential members fit this category, he/she may request a case-by-case reduction by completing the fee-reduction application; if approved, the enrollment fee will be reduced to $5. Chapter Advisors must submit the fee-reduction application prior to enrolling members; those members granted fee reductions will be enrolled by the Central Office.
Limited funding is available to subsidize these reductions each year; chapters are strongly encouraged to conduct fundraising activities or request school activity funds to support the NEHS members who may need financial assistance.
The induction ceremony is a very special event and should be viewed as a dignified celebration of the academic achievement of new members. It encourages continued involvement of all members and recognizes the special camaraderie of NEHS members everywhere. Each chapter is required to have at least one induction a year; some chapters elect to have more. Not all induction ceremonies must be elaborate or formal, but all should respect the honor of being selected for membership. It is entirely appropriate that school officials, faculty, parents, and current local chapter members be present at the induction of students into an honor society of this caliber. View a sample induction ceremony.
Note that word induction connotes a different process than does the word initiation. Chapters are forbidden to initiate, haze, blackball, or do anything similar, as any part of the NEHS process. Any chapter found engaged in any of these shall lose its charter. "Induction" is to be used in any reference to the induction of new members.
Inductees are not full members until their registrations and fees are received by and recorded in the Central Office, and until they have been properly inducted. The importance of attendance at the ceremony should be stressed. Only if circumstances such as illness, personal emergency, or unavoidable conditions exist, should inductees be excused from participating in the scheduled event. An informal induction may be held at a later date, as close to the date of the formal induction as possible, for such candidates.
To ensure that membership certificates and other materials are at the school prior to the induction ceremony, full new-member information and a check covering the one-time induction fees must be sent to the Central Office no later than three weeks prior to the date by which materials are needed.
Transferring an active membership is permissible. However, a student must complete one full semester at the new school before a full transfer is allowed. If the minimum GPA at the new school's chapter is higher than that of the previous school's chapter, the transferee may be
- granted membership, with the Faculty Advisory Council setting a reasonable time for the student to raise the GPA to the new standard, or
- directed that membership will not be transferred until the new, higher, GPA is attained. In all transfer situations the Faculty Advisory Council is charged with making sound, equitable, consistent, and professional judgments.
Students who fall below the standards that were the basis for their selection as members shall be warned promptly in writing by the Chapter Advisor and given a reasonable amount of time to correct the deficiency, except that in the case of flagrant violation of school rules or civil laws a member does not necessarily have to be warned.
The procedure for removal from membership shall be determined by the Faculty Advisory Council in compliance with the rules and regulations of the National Advisory Council. A written description of the removal process shall be available to interested parties. Article XIII of the NEHS Constitution provides further details.