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We listen to the conspiracy theorists, and we think that these societies might control the world. We imagine they masturbate in coffins. But is it possibly true? Even a former Yale President has written one — A.

1911 › Wolf, Chas F (p. 2118)

To an extent, Yalies now agree. Two out of three students who responded to the News poll initially thought senior societies are at least somewhat important to the Yale social scene. And one in five respondents initially thought they are at least somewhat important to the Yale education. But perceptions sometimes change.

One in three Yalies who responded to the News poll said he or she found the society system to be less relevant to the Yale social scene than originally thought, and one in four now thinks the system is less relevant to the Yale education. It is not uncommon for seniors to decline taps today because they feel they have many time commitments and existing social obligations. As juniors lead the clubs of the school and seniors worry about the job market, the power structure of the college has moved somewhat away from the fourth-years.

Indeed, many underclassmen have no contact with the societies until tap night. And apart from the naked parties hosted by the Pundits, a prankster senior society, only Manuscript and St. Manuscript hosts events with distinguished alumni that are open to guests of members, and three-year society Delta Psi, now known as St. Anthony Hall, also organizes in-house lectures and social events.

There once were freshman, sophomore, junior and senior societies to structure the social scene of the University. The freshman societies, which tapped promising students in their senior years at the leading boarding schools of the time and fresh off their first train to campus, were short-lived.

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The sophomore societies were very powerful: if accepted, entrance to a junior, and even a senior society was almost inevitable. The juniors had fraternities. Each of them had 35 members, considerably more than the sophomore and senior societies. Today, only St.

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Anthony Hall, besides the frats and the one or two junior societies, taps anyone younger than a junior at Yale. Without the rigid social structure imposed by many years of organizational hierarchy, Yale, unlike Harvard with its finals clubs and Princeton with its eating clubs, has shifted towards a more fluid social structure where interactions between the classes are marked by few, if any, barriers.

Certainly, Yalies now enjoy a far different experience from the hierarchy that societies and clubs emphasize. But that was not always the case. In , there was a quota for Skull and Bones.

Two members needed to be from the Yale Literary Magazine. One or two came from the baseball, football or boating teams. One joined from the Yale Daily News and other Yale publications. At least one was set for high scholarship. In , the demographics were noticeably different. Social status and alumni connections no longer entitle one to a tap for a senior society.


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While they might encourage consideration of a candidate, they no longer offer assured membership. Secure taps in undergraduate organizations have also declined. It is, however, rumored that the tap lines that ran through the fraternities are still alive. Certainly, George W. When a group of 15 students are selected for their talents, rather than their social status, intellectual sparks are bound to fly. In many societies, members do not know each other before they are inducted. Society members interviewed said the societies allowed them to meet new people and discover new interests.

And the collaboration can, in some ways, be helpful to the Yale community. While subscriptions continued to trickle in, some sort of executive action was needed, provided when it was reported at a meeting on March 6 that a graduate member of the society living in New York was offering financial assistance. All the members signed an agreement to this effect, with Professors Wheeler and Phelps also pledged to sign. Less immediately fruitful was the search for a name and a badge. There is much more open work, and stained glass windows serve to break the monotony of the walls.

The members of the Third Senior Society, still nameless to the barbarian world, were not prepared to enter the public lists of election day acted out before Durfee Hall, and the class of reverted to the old pattern of visiting men of the class of in their rooms. Another mystic sign is sprung on us and the mysteries have added fifteen more disciples to their number. As it is yet undecided as to its name we must be content to use a blank. While they did not hazard public appearance on election day with its risk of open rebuff, the undergraduates of the Third Society in the class of were able to assemble fifteen members, ten elected among themselves, and these ten electing five more after meeting over two or three nights.

The building is all that could be desired, equaling that of Bones for durability and excelling the hedge-enclosed structure on College Street in point of beauty.

The year ended with their first initiation banquet, on May 31, and Professors Phelps and Wheeler were invited. Evarts, Hopkins, and Worcester, and plans were made for the inaugural meeting in the at-last-completed new hall. Allen, Henry B. Anderson and Michael Schultz [new Keysmen from the class of ], it is said. The seniors. A deputy sheriff arrived to arrest the men who belong to the Scroll and Key society, but Prof.

At that hour the seniors met H. McDowell, a society man, who returned the flag, swearing on his honor that it was the original one. The seniors then demanded an apology from the kleptomaniac juniors. Under pressure of threatened legal proceedings.

The new hall was up and roofed, although not completed within, for the commencement night dinner, following the Senior Promenade. Rain poured outside, candles provided the only illumination among the skeleton partitions, and the windows were covered with pine boards, but songs, supper, toasts, and the big working fireplace made any discomfort remote. The Gray Friars had survived their first year. Their second year as a society saw substantial further progress. The front part of the grounds were sodded, and the walk paved. The constitution of the undergraduates proved to be more controversial, and the minutes show five full pages of amendments which the collegians wished to have considered, but after further discussions in New Haven and New York, it was adopted.

The biggest undecided question was now decided, following the first meeting of the delegation in September In the spring, on March 21, the long-scheduled graduate meeting occurred. James was announced, and the glow of that appointment warmed the meeting, as the appointment was celebrated both in New Haven and across the nation. Do you accept? Certainly there were examples of this: among them were Edmund Clarence Stedman, , the poet and literary critic; Wayne MacVeagh, , U.

This process—investigation, report, and vote—was then repeated in the board of governors. The college did not see this process, and the election of delegations from the classes of through was to include so many men who were members of Spade and Grave that it was sometimes thought, as reported in a Buffalo, New York, newspaper in , that the younger society was the offspring of the older one. The two older societies continued to suffer by comparison with the more relatively open attitude and demeanor of their new rival.