7 Secret Societies

July 6, 2017
Julie Jarema
Riveted Editorial Board

The Order of IV, a secret society devoted to mischief that rights wrongs and pays back debts, sounds pretty awesome. What could be better than gathering together with your closest friends and getting up to trouble under the cover of anonymity? Well, things take a turn for the worst for this group of four friends in Alexandra Sirowy’s First We Were IV, but secret societies are still undeniably cool. Even if they cause endless chaos like the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks or, uh, ritualistic sacrifices like the group of classics majors in The Secret History.

Maybe secret societies that actually exist in real life (at least at the college level) are the safer bet. Even though their names are recognizable, they remain secret because it’s widely unknown what goes on within them. Perhaps that’s what makes these elusive clubs so appealing—the mystery and wild conspiracy theories that spiral out of speculation and limitless possibilities.

You can read about what exactly goes down in the Order of IV in First We Were IV, and you can take a guess about what goes on in these real life collegiate secret societies in the comments!

1. Skull and Bones

Yale - Sec Soc

School: Yale

Fun facts:

  • Yale is full of a ridiculous amount of secret societies—41 recorded in 2014! Skull and Bones is the oldest, most illustrious of the groups.
  • Members meet every Thursday and Sunday in “The Tomb”.
  • The society owns/manages and visits Deer Island, an island retreat on the St. Lawrence River.
  • The society was originally known as the Brotherhood of Death.
  • Both of the Bush presidents (and William Howard Taft!) were members during their time at Yale.

Incidents & infamy:

  • Skull and Bones is supposedly linked to many conspiracy theories, including one that claims that the group is part of a global conspiracy for world control.
  • Another rumor is that the group is a branch of the Illuminati.
  • Another claims that it controls the CIA.
  • Another believes that it was involved in the creation of the nuclear bomb.
  • And the assassination of JFK.
  • It’s believed that the members stole the skull of Geronimo, who was buried in Oklahoma. While several members were stationed there, they allegedly dug it up and sent it back to The Tomb.

2. The Order of Gimghoul

UNC - sec soc

School: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Fun facts:

  • The society was originally called the Order of Droomgole after Peter Droomgole, who mysteriously disappeared from campus in 1833 after losing a duel. The name was changed cause Gimghoul “in accord with midnight and graves and weirdness” according to the archives.
  • It’s all male. Whatever.
  • Its headquarters are in super creepy awesome Hippol Castle.

3. The Flat Hat Club

William and Mary - FHC

School: College of William & Mary

Fun facts:

  • The group got its name from the society’s trademark hat, which is a graduation cap.
  • The initials F.H.C. are believed to stand for Fraternitas Humanitas Cognitioque, which is Latin for Brotherhood, Humaneness, and Knowledge.
  • It’s all male, ugh.
  • But there are also at least about fifteen other secret societies in existence at W&M including the Alphas, an all-female society to counteract the all-male ones.

Incidents & infamy:

  • Nope, none of those shenanigans here. Their actions consist of anonymous philanthropic acts that benefit the school and its students.

4. Seven Society

UVA - sec soc

School: University of Virginia

Fun facts:

  • According to legend, the society was established when eight students planned to meet for two tables of bridge, but only seven showed up.
  • Members are only revealed after their death, when black magnolias are placed in the shape of a “7” on the grave site; the bell tower chimes at seven-second intervals on the seventh dissonant chord at seven past the hour; and a notice is published in the university’s alumni news.

Incidents & infamy:

  • The group theatrically donates financial sums to the school in quantities that include the number 7. In 1947, the commencement address was interrupted when a tiny smoke bomb went off, and a check for 177,777.77 floated to the ground.
  • They sign their donations and letters with seven astronomical symbols: Earth, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Neptune, Uranus, and Venus.

5. Cadaver Society

Wash and Lee - Sec Soc

School: Washington and Lee University

Fun facts:

  • Rumored to be made up of pre-med students with top GPAs.
  • Meetings happen after dark, where members wear black caps with hoods.
  • It’s speculated that there’s a system of underground passages that members take so they’re invisible across campus. This system works via a system of suspicious doors that are always locked in school building basements and the library and manhole covers.

Incidents & infamy:

  • They paint their symbol across the football field before big games.
  • Rumored to be a branch of the Illuminati.

6. The Order of the Bull’s Blood

Rutgers cannon

School: Rutgers

Fun facts:

  • It’s so secret, it might not actually exist.

Incidents & infamy:

  • This society might have once stolen a cannon from Princeton University in 1875. The schools continue to feud over which should get to keep the cannon.

7. The Eucleian Society

NYU sec soc

School: NYU

Fun facts:

  • A literary society that once had Edgar Allan Poe as a guest lecturer, which led to the group’s nickname, “The Raven Society.”
  • Super progressive when it was founded, promoting gender equality, abolition, and Native Americans’ rights.
  • Had two publications that satirized current events and people

Incidents & infamy:

  • In 2009, set off beepers across campus with the message “Fellow Classmates, Truth is something you find outside the classroom, outside of the walls of this university, and only from the professor in front of you insofar as he can serve as an experienced guide. We’re not here to preach. We’re here to simply say, NYU has its secrets too. This is your friendly wake-up call. Regards, The Eucleian Society.”

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