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  • Lee Parsons, Staff Writer

Inside the mind of Psychology Club: Building a welcoming atmosphere for all


Photo by Maille Olgyay

Every Thursday afternoon at Willamette University, a diverse group of students comes together to explore the intricacies of the human mind. The Psychology Club, led by president Sterlin Griffin (‘26), provides a unique space for individuals with varied goals and backgrounds all united by a shared interest in psychology.


According to Kayla Stinson (‘24), the vice president of the club, the beauty of the Psychology Club lies in the diversity of goals among its members. In Griffin’s words, his goal is to “foster a community of those who enjoy psychology,” regardless of whether or not they are officially studying psychology. Stinson supports this and said their goal is “mostly about sharing psychology and making psychology accessible to different people.” These distinct yet compatible goals contribute to the richness of the club's environment, creating a club that is accessible to all and enthusiastic about psychology and creating community. The club seeks to create a welcoming atmosphere, attempting to break down typical barriers present in the field and making psychology an engaging subject for all.


The weekly meetings are far from predictable, with activities ranging from psycho-analysis of fictional characters using the DSM-5 to exploring scientific articles and listening to guest speakers. Obtaining credible information is therefore crucial for the club. In the past, Griffin has reached out to faculty and explored reputable sources like the American Psychological Association (APA) for articles, and Stinson added articles that came from classes and faculty members. These articles help shape the club's discussions. 


As for guest speakers, the club strives to bring in knowledgeable individuals. Griffin said, “The people we try to get are always credited people. Currently, I’m trying to look into the side of neuroscience.” Griffin expressed an interest in featuring speakers from different scientific fields adjacent to psychology. The goal is to expose members to diverse perspectives within psychology, integrating speakers from both psychology and other fields.


The club has an emphasis on making activities accessible to everyone in the club. Stinson stressed the focus on discussion and words rather than physical actions, aligning with the club’s goal of bringing psychology to people, rather than people to the field. Underscoring the importance of making meetings and activities accessible, the Psychology Club’s activities do not require prior knowledge of any kind in the field. 


The club's structure reflects a desire to be open to everyone. As Stinson stated, “We don’t aim to make [the club] exclusive. … pretty much all of our emails come with the note, ‘Bring your friends if you want!’” This echoes their commitment to creating a welcoming environment for anyone interested, not just those directly involved in psychology. “In the future," Stinson said, "we want to expand [the club] to have more opportunities, but as a beginning stage, we’re really focusing on bringing it to other people at the moment.”


As part of this expansion, the club doesn't limit its impact to campus meetings and has begun to hold activities on other parts of campus. Griffin shared his experience with convocation courses and seminars on mental health, saying, “I had a seminar about mental health. I had the biology faculty, some people from Bishop and Kayla, the vice president, [were] there.” He added that the group is “open to the campus," highlighting the club's commitment to community engagement: "It’s a community thing. It’s always available, fall and spring, so it’s a good way to get connected.” The club aspires to organize events that appeal to both psychology enthusiasts and those unfamiliar with the field.


For future events, Griffin envisions volunteer work that will introduce psychology in a fun and engaging manner. Stinson added that collaboration with health sciences is a priority, intending to have the club collaborate with other organizations on special topics and events.


Griffin founded the Psychology Club in the spring and, despite being relatively new, the club has already attracted around 65 members to its email list. Their challenge lies in converting this interest into active participation. Currently, the introduction course for psychology takes place at the same time as the club, which creates a scheduling conflict for many first-year students. Due to this, the club is considering moving its weekly meeting time based on the availability of those interested next semester.


The Psychology Club at Willamette University stands as a community where psychology enthusiasts come together to explore, discuss and engage with the fascinating world of the mind. With a commitment to accessibility, community building and continuous improvement, the club is poised to leave a lasting impact on its members and the broader community. If students find themselves intrigued by the complexities of the human mind, Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. in Walton 140 might just be the perfect time and place for them. 


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