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Old 01-15-2003, 11:41 AM
LXAAlum LXAAlum is offline
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Mystique of secret societies no secret among college students

PHILADELPHIA -- Enshrouded in mystery and misdemeanor, secret societies at the University of Pennsylvania and other schools have been receiving increased attention as of late.
But despite their label, these organizations are far from secret. The term simply means that the societies are independent from the schools in which they are located, and thus their actions cannot be regulated.

In the wake of the alleged assault of a Princeton student by five Penn students said to be affiliated with the secret Owl Society, the question has been raised -- can these groups be disciplined?

Without a means of control, each academic institution has had to devise its own procedures to deal with these organizations.

Right now, Penn can discipline individual members of secret societies but cannot reprimand the organizations as a whole.

"If no specific relationship exists, as in the case of secret societies, the University cannot discipline that organization," Vice Provost for University Life spokesperson Leah Smith said. "Disciplinary measures can be imposed if individual members violate University policy or other civil or criminal law. In that case, it would be individual members who are disciplined."

Yale University takes a similar approach with what the campus community calls "senior societies," which like Penn's Theos, Owls and Tabard Society, are not registered with any official organization and often own the buildings in which they meet and select their future generations of pledges.

Yale is known to be the home of some of the most notorious organizations of this kind, notably the Skull and Bones Society. The groups are said to search for the coming year's pledges among the junior class, favoring those that come from the families of former members. This system of recruiting ensures tight cohesion within the groups, strongly affirming their presence on campus.

Despite the obviousness of their existence, the societies' cases of offense are attributed only to the individual culprit and not to the societies as a whole.

"We do not engage in collective guilt," Yale's Assistant Director of Public Affairs Gila Reinstein said.

The University of Virginia also prefers to reprimand offenders individually, whether they are members of a secret society or not. In charge of the adjudications is the university's judiciary committee, composed only of students.

But UVA's secret organizations are not known for their unruly behavior but rather for their generous donations.

"I cannot recall any behavior where a secret society was involved that was regarded as a serious offense," said Aaron Laushway, assistant dean of students and director of the office of fraternity and sorority life at UVA. "They are dedicated to good works."

But reprimanding secret societies is not out of the question for all universities -- Wesleyan University has issued specific regulations concerning secret organizations to avoid repetition of past episodes, such as the writing of hate messages on campus sidewalks.

"All secret societies must register at least one person with the student government office and the student activity office," Wesleyan Dean of Student Services Mike Whaley said.

Also, if there is documentation for an unregistered event that appears to be sponsored by a group, charges will be filed against the entire society.

Some may argue that this registration undermines the secretive aspect of the organization -- but when it comes down to it, all universities have control over their offending members individually, if not the societies as a whole.
From the Daily Pennsylvanian Newspaper
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Old 01-15-2003, 10:48 PM
DeltAlum DeltAlum is offline
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The above is the opinion of the poster which may or may not be based in known facts and does not necessarily reflect the views of Delta Tau Delta or Greek Chat -- but it might.
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Old 01-15-2003, 11:18 PM
RedRoseSAI RedRoseSAI is offline
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Re: Mystique of secret societies no secret among college students

Originally posted by LXAAlum
"All secret societies must register at least one person with the student government office and the student activity office," Wesleyan Dean of Student Services Mike Whaley said.
Doesn't sound very secret to me.
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Old 01-16-2003, 01:14 PM
madmax madmax is offline
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additional info.

Last edited by madmax; 01-16-2003 at 07:56 PM.
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Old 01-16-2003, 02:10 PM
HotDamnImAPhiMu HotDamnImAPhiMu is offline
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........ "Owl Society"?
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Old 01-22-2003, 03:07 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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