COVID-19 restricts the Political Affairs Society

PAS bulletin board in Thomas E. Ricks Building Photo credit: Luke Christensen

The Political Affairs Society at BYU-Idaho was created in 2006 to help students in the political field. It is a chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society and the Brigham Young University Political Affairs Society, an organization that facilitates networking in the political sphere.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has affected the opportunity for the society to plan new activities.

According to the organization’s mission statement, “BYUPAS will help its members acquire the skills necessary to succeed in domestic and international political affairs by building critical networks, increasing public policy and political awareness through non-partisan educational opportunities, pursuing moral and ethical leadership in politics and government, and creating opportunities to become involved in applied politics.”

BYUPAS has hosted various networking events in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Washington, D.C., with government professionals and representatives.

Students can gain multiple connections through BYUPAS. BYU alumni around the world are willing to work with and help students through application processes and other career opportunities.

Pi Sigma Alpha is the National Political Science Honor Society at BYU-I. Its purpose is to recognize and promote high academic achievement in political science. This organization is a part of the Association of College Honor Societies. Becoming a national member provides benefits such as building a resume, publishing scholarly work and receiving financial aid from scholarships.

Students, professors and professionals can listen to guest speakers with political experience, as these speakers are invited often to speak.

Professional workshops are held to help students sharpen their skills for success in politics and government.

Other PAS activities include simulations, retreats, jeopardy and speed debating.

Travis Smith, a faculty member in the Department of History, Geography and Political Science, is unsure about when the society will resume activities.

“COVID-19 has meant that many of the Political Affairs Society activities in winter of last year were canceled,” Smith said. “In spring and fall, the leadership council met a few times on Zoom to try to come up with some events, but nothing ever worked out. It has been a challenge to adapt and have activities under the various conditions this past year and with many students away from Rexburg.”

Although Smith is unsure about when the society will resume activities, he hopes the society will find a way to plan them soon.

“The Political Affairs Society doesn’t currently have any activities planned,” Smith stated. “There was never a formal decision made to stop having activities. I hope that the society will be able to put together some ideas soon, but it is hard to put a timeline on it.”

Students are not required to be political science majors to qualify for Pi Sigma Alpha membership. The requirements include completing at least one-half of total credits required by BYU-I, completing 10 credits in political science courses and achieving a GPA in the top third of their graduating class. One upper-division course with an average grade of a B or higher must also be completed.

BYU-I does not require an application to become a nationally recognized member. Once eligibility is determined, a faculty advisor will send an email with further details.

For more information about PAS, click here.