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Phi Beta Kappa elects 149 seniors, 59 juniors

U. chapter implements several changes to selection process

<p>As of this year, Rhode Island Alpha — the University&#x27;s Phi Beta Kappa chapter — elects 12% of students from each class year, roughly 3% of which are elected as juniors and roughly 9% of which are elected as seniors.</p>

As of this year, Rhode Island Alpha — the University's Phi Beta Kappa chapter — elects 12% of students from each class year, roughly 3% of which are elected as juniors and roughly 9% of which are elected as seniors.

One hundred forty-nine graduating seniors and 59 juniors were elected to the University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa on May 26, according to Richard Rambuss, professor of English and chapter president.

Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honors organization, was founded at the College of William & Mary in 1776. This year’s elections marked a host of changes for the University’s chapter, Rhode Island Alpha — the seventh-oldest chapter in the country.

Previously, 10% of students from each class year received election in their time at the University, with roughly 2.5% receiving election during their junior year and roughly 7.5% receiving election during their senior year, according to an email from Stephen Foley, an English professor who serves as secretary of the University’s chapter. 

But, as of this year, the chapter elects 12% of students from each class year, roughly 3% of which are elected as juniors and roughly 9% of which are elected as seniors. The decision came as part of an effort to make elections more inclusive and “reflective of the student body at Brown,” Rambuss said.


Last year, Phi Beta Kappa eliminated the requirement that every “C” grade must be “offset” with an “A” grade, as well as the stipulation that seniors remain enrolled for consecutive semesters, The Herald previously reported. The chapter also canceled the latter requirement for juniors this year, Rambuss said.

According to the chapter’s election guidelines as of November 2021, juniors must have completed 20 courses and received 18 grades of “A”s or “S with Distinction” to be eligible for election. Seniors must have completed 28 courses with 23 grades of “A” or “S with Distinction”. 

Additionally, students must complete 40% of their classes in the arts, humanities or social sciences — a distinction that the chapter extended to classes in the Department of Cognitive, Psychological and Linguistic Sciences and Department of Public Health this year. “Pure math” classes, which used to count towards the distribution requirement, no longer qualify as of this year, Rambuss said. 

Previously, Phi Beta Kappa has held multiple elections — one in February to elect juniors, another in April to elect seniors and a third in May to elect seniors who transferred to the University as juniors, The Herald previously reported

This year, because data arrived later than usual from the office of the dean of the College in May, the junior and senior elections took place at the same time, and the chapter is now electing transfer students after their graduation, Foley wrote in the email. 

The election process began in early May when the office of the dean of the College sent Phi Beta Kappa a list of seniors and juniors who met the group’s eligibility requirements. The list ranked those students in descending order according to the same formula the college uses to calculate magna cum laude rankings, Foley added in his email to The Herald. 

The process, he wrote, is based “on the numbers.” This marks a shift from previous years, when undergraduate electors reviewed every eligible transcript anonymously before voting on each file, Rambuss said.

But as part of the organization’s effort to “open up the pipeline and make it more representative of the student body at Brown,” the chapter temporarily eliminated the student electors from the process for the next two class years, Rambuss said. 

“We just wanted to be careful … of any possible implicit subjective bias,” Rambuss said, noting that electors may have favored some courses or subjects over others.

After next year, the chapter will study the effects of the change, Foley wrote. Still, the chapter will continue reviewing individual student transcripts “not for election, but for the historical purpose of studying how our new procedures serve the goal of reflecting the breadth and depth of the records of students elected.” 


If the chapter chooses to remove student electors permanently, they’ll need the approval of the chapter’s membership beyond its leadership, Rambuss said.

“Making it a function of academic record is more in line with other chapters across the country,” he added.

Max Niles ’22 said that his election felt like a “good culmination” of his time at the University. “As somebody who was humanities-focused, it was nice to be recognized for that,” he said.

The election took him somewhat by surprise: Niles hadn’t thought about the society until two of his other friends received emails letting them know they were elected. Soon after, he received the same email. “I was super excited,” he said.

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Brynn Chernosky ’23 said she was also surprised to receive the email informing her she had been elected. She knew about Phi Beta Kappa from posts on Dear Blueno, but said the society hadn’t been on her mind.

“I heard that they were changing the process last year, but I never saw an update on how they were changing the process,” she added.

Victoria Cao ’23, another new elect, added that though she had also only heard about the society on Dear Blueno, she was excited once she concluded that the email was not a scam.

“It was a pleasant surprise that at Brown, someone would acknowledge my academic work,” added Sophie Pollack-Milgate ’23. “I never thought I stood out at all, because everyone is academically excellent.”

Still, Pollack-Milgate said that she wasn’t sure if she would join, noting that she needed to “do more research” on what the group “actually does” and if joining would be “worth it.”

To join the chapter, elects have to pay a one-time $135 initiation fee, The Herald previously reported — though Rambuss emphasized that the University covers the fee for students receiving financial aid.

“These honor societies seem … a little bit elitist in that they don’t make the requirements very clear,” Cao noted. Phi Beta Kappa hopefuls, she said, deserve more transparency to know why they did or did not make the cut.

“It is sort of hierarchical,” Niles said. But “if you’ve got it, you should use it,” he added, commenting that he believes many students will add the honor to their resumes.

Those elected from the class of 2022 are as follows:

Sawsan Alshaiba ’22

Rachel Avram ’22

Maxwell Babej ’22

Adriana Báez Berríos ’22

Elana Balch ’22

Maria-Chiara Bellomo ’22

Liam Bendicksen ’22

Zachary Bernstein ’22

Emma Blake ’22

Joshua Bricker ’22

Claire Brown ’22

Idil Çakmur ’22

Zhi Wei Jeremy Chan ’22

Kenny Chang ’22

Jamie Cheng ’22

Sorin Cho ’22

Samuel Chowning ’22

Catalin Chung ’22

Ethan Chung ’22

Molly Cook ’22

Juliana Crotta-Cox ’22

Stephen Dabrowski ’22

Carlie Darefsky ’22

Jack Dermer ’22

Savannah Doelfel ’22

Milo Douglas ’22

Yara Doumani ’22

Rocket Drew ’22

Sean Ervine ’22

Charlotte Everett ’22

Cole Exline ’22

Dichuan Gao ’22

Nimish Garg ’22

Emma George ’22

Olivia George ’22 (former Herald University News editor)

Ricardo Gomez ’22

Deepak Gupta ’22

Sohum Gupta ’22

Clara Gutman Argemí ‘22 (former Herald Metro editor)

Maxwell Harris ’22

Zachary Harris ’22

Susan Hasegawa ’22

Rebecca Herman ’22

Ivy Hobson ’22

Claire Hodges ’22

Madison Hough ’22

Ingrid Huang ’22

Connor Jenkins ’22

Lucie Joerg ’22

Jonathan Katz ’22

Juliana Katz ’22

Elias Kaul ’22

Emily Kim ’22

Rebecca Kirby ’22

Gleb Kirin ’22

Ashley Knebel ’22 (former Herald photographer)

Alp Köksal ’22

Mamaswatsi Kopeka ’22

Jennifer Labs ’22

Trevor Labuda ’22

Nikolas Lazar ’22

Joyce Lee ’22

Dylan Lewis ’22

Vivian Li ’22

Xinru Li ’22

Kaetlyn Liddy ’22

Davis Lister ’22

Jane Litvin ’22

Parker Ljung ’22

Shelby Love ’22

Joseph Madour ’22

Rebecca Mathew ’22

Peter McDermott ’22

Weston McGinley ’22

Michael McGovern ’22

Dylan Moore ’22

Neha Mukherjee ’22 (former Herald contributing writer)

Kavya Nayak ’22

Loughlin Neuert ’22

Maxwell Niles ’22

Madeline Noh ’22

Rachel Okin ’22

Abigail Page ’22

Isaiah Paik ’22

Elena Panzitta ’22

Sophia Papandonatou ’22

Thomas Patti ’22 (former Herald staff writer)

Abigail Perelman ’22

Marijke Perry ’22

Jasmine Powell ’22

Caterina Prestia ’22

Janet Qi ’22

Rebecca Qiu ’22

John Randolph ’22

Emily Reed ’22

Grace Reed ’22

Maayan Rosenfield ’22

Mia Russo ’22

Alexandra Christine Ryan ’22

Tarana Sable ’22

David Sacks ’22

Christopher Sarli ’22

Penina Satlow ’22

Madeleine Savage ’22

Akhil Saxena ’22

Jonathan Scalabrini ’22

Spencer Schultz ’22 (former Herald University News editor)

Isabelle Scott ’22

Talia Shakhnovsky ’22

Ahjeetha Shankar ’22

Jessica Sharp ’22

Xiangkun Shi ’22

Harrison Smith ’22

Nathaniel Smith ’22

Natthamon Sothanaphan ’22

Danielle Springer ’22

John Stebbins ’22

Lily Steinman ’22

Grant Sterman ’22

Kendall Stern ’22

Peyton Strong ’22

Anna Susini ’22

Alison Swinth ’22

Thomas Sze ’22

Olivia Thorson ’22

Stina Trollbäck ’22

Selen Tumay ’22 (former Herald staff writer)

Charles Urry ’22

Jolie Wei ’22

Thompson Whiteley ’22

Max Wills ’22

Thomas Wilson ’22

Seungmin Woo ’22

Annie Wu ’22

Rachel Yan ’22

Whitney Yu ’22

Bree Zhang ’22

Claire Zhang ’22

Megan Zhang ’22

Maria Zou ’22

Those elected from the class of 2023 are as follows:

Mark Appleman ’23

Alice Bai ’23 (current post- feature section managing editor)

Gemma Brand-Wolf ’23

Nicholas Cancellaro ’23

Victoria Cao ’23

Cooper Cardone ’23

Tiffany Shu Yee Chan ’23

Simon Chang-Huang ’23

Brynn Chernosky ’23

Caroline David ’23

Cleopatra Elrashidy ’23

Elyse Forman ’23

Chong Jing Gan ’23

Benji Glanz ’23

Seth Goldstein ’23

Maansi Gupta ’23

Adeline Hahn ’23

Juliana Han ’23

Deena Haque ’23

Eamon Hartigan-O'Connor ’23

Joseph Hlavinka ’23

Robin Hwang ’23

Kian Kafaie ’23

Shreya Kamojjala ’23

Jackson Kelley ’23

Mukul Khanna ’23 (current Herald photographer)

Grace Kim ’23

Isaac Kim ’23

Makoto Kobayashi ’23

Shelby Kostal ’23

Rahul Krishnan ’23

Carolyn Lai ’23

Edan Larkin ’23

Annette Lee ’23

Anna Kate Lembke ’23

Jimmy Leroux ’23

Abby Li ’23

Yueshan Li ’23 (former Herald senior staff writer)

Nelson Lin ’23

Miya Matsuishi-Elhardt ’23

Leo McMahon ’23

Margherita Micaletti-Hinojal ’23

Mason Miller-Breetz ’23

Maia Mongado ’23

Jason Peres da Silva ’23

Sophie Pollack-Milgate ’23

Geat Ramush ’23

Zach Reiss ’23

Samantha Schaab-Rozbicki ’23

Simran Singh ’23

Maxine Slater ’23

Justin Song ’23

Shuyang Song ’23

Jitripat Tantipipatpong ’23

Sojas Wagle ’23

Camilla Watson ’23

Benjamin West ’23

Helen Zhou ’23

Enya Zhu ’23

Correction: A previous version of this story mistated the first name of Stephen Foley. The Herald regrets the error.

Will Kubzansky

Will Kubzansky is the 133rd editor-in-chief and president of the Brown Daily Herald. Previously, he served as a University News editor overseeing the admission & financial aid and staff & student labor beats. In his free time, he plays the guitar and soccer — both poorly.

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