Last month, part of the Tech student body was flattered upon receiving an email from the National Society of Leadership and Success recruiting them to join their organization.
However, the solicitation of students’ emails was at random and under the false pretense that the selected students were chosen off of an academic basis.
The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS) is “the largest collegiate leadership honor society in the United States,” according to their recruiting material and reportedly boasts over a million members nationwide.
The NSLS recruits students similarly to other high school and collegiate honor societies.
They often invite top students to join over email, as do many other honor societies.
But, due to a condition in Tech’s open records request system, the society was only given access to students’ emails without their academic information attached, leading to invitations being sent to random Tech students.
“We did get some emails about parents and students reaching out saying that they had gotten the communication from the National Society of Leadership and Success,” said Gerome Stephens, associate dean of students and director of the Center for Student Engagement at Tech. “What I also knew was that we hadn’t shared any information with them.”
The Center for Student Engagement has not shared student information with the organization.
The organization definitely did not have academic information about students.
Stephens reached out to the organization to ask how NSLS acquired the emails of Tech students.
“What I found out was that they got the contact information for students through an open records request that was very specific,” Stephens said.
The invitations from the NSLS went out to around 11,000 students, and “it was kind of a random selection of the 11,000 students,” Stephens said.
He added that there were no academic qualifications associated with the selected students, even though the NSLS invitations implied the students were high performers at Tech.
After this discovery, the dean’s office has responded to student inquiries to explain that the invitations were under false pretenses and were not legitimate.
An update about the situation was also sent out in a Weekly Digest email and commented on a post about the invitations on the Tech Reddit page.
Stephens also added that there are active chapters of NSLS around the country that are good, but the email solicitation was “not an ethical way of recruiting.”
When he reached out to the NSLS about the random selection of students, the contact apologized for the actions and stressed that the email solicitation was not usually how they worked.
“There’s a business side to the organization; it doesn’t make the whole organization bad,” Stephens said.
“I think it was a business decision that they regret, and they’ve apologized over and over.”
As emails like this get sent out often to the student body, Tech students should stay vigilant when approached in the future.
“My guidance would be if they’re asking for money and not offering an organizational-type experience, I would question it,” Stephens said about dealing with similar societies that seem to randomly recruit students.
Researching whether your school has a chapter of the recruiting society is a good indicator of whether or not you should join. NSLS does not have an active chapter on Tech’s campus. One should also check what kind of requirements and fees are required to join the organization to make sure it is legitimate.