On my first admission’s tour a guide told me that UVA has the 2nd most active Secret Society community, next to Yale. I’m not sure how someone can even measure this but I enjoyed this fun fact so have accepted it as truth.
As you walked around Grounds you will notice peculiar markings, which might be mistaken as graffiti but are actually the symbol for one of our many secret societies.
Before delving into the profiles of some of the prominent societies one can’t help but wonder, what are the purpose of these organizations?
When secret societies were founded they were meant to fill a social purpose. For example, what is now the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society was known as Phi Pi Theta in 1825. It was only open to white males and did not serve any sort of intellectual purpose as it strives for today. Over time, the purpose of these societies has shifted from social to philanthropic. Starting with monetary donations.
Many of these organizations are capable of donating generous sums of money to different aspects of the university such as class councils. Their intention is to give back to the university. This can also be done through some sort of service.
Take the A.N.G.E.L.S for example. Their mission is to comfort those in the community who are experience some sort of grief and to commend those who have exemplified extraordinary kindness to others.
One of the things I find most fascinating about secret societies is how different their personalities are.
The three you will hear discussed most commonly are the IMPs, the Zs, and the 7s.
But who the heck are they? Well let’s do a quick rundown.
IMP Society: The least secret of the three, you can know an IMPs’ true identity. You can most likely see them carrying a pitchfork and wearing a hood with red devil ears as they stride around Grounds. They’re known for their mischievous antics but also strive for organize philanthropies such as a grant for their annual Service Fellowship.
Z Society: One cannot know the identity of a Z until graduation. On that say they can choose to wear a ring to reveal their membership to the society. Their work mainly stems from monetary donations towards different sectors of the university such as Alderman Library and giving out recognition such as the Distinguished Faculty Award.
Seven Society: True secrecy lies within the Seven Society. The identity of a member of the 7s is not revealed until death where a wreath of black magnolias in the shape of a ‘7’ is placed on their gravesite. In order to contact the 7s one must place a letter at the Thomas Jefferson statue inside the Rotunda. They’re best known for giving out monetary gifts that incorporate that always ends in 7. (Noticing a trend here?)
Secret societies at UVA extend beyond just these few, each unique and interesting in their own rights. It’s quite a goofy but really fascinating aspect of UVA culture.
So be good young wahoos! You never know who might be watching…