Letter to the Editor — April 15

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April 15, 2008

1:56 AM

The substance of secrecy

To the Editor:

After my enjoyable read of Dan Piepenbring’s column “Surreptitious Societies Not a Secret Worth Keeping,” I would like to add more substance to his humorous quips concerning secret societies to better illustrate criticisms of their effects on campus.

While secret societies do perform charitable actions and pursue noble endeavors, let us not forget that a society is made up of people. This raises the question: What inherently makes the recognition or encouragement of a secretive group more influential than that of its members?

To openly approach the College community or individuals and perform the exemplified kind acts may require more humility and mandate personal interaction, but is this something that we should avoid? It would not create intrigue over a symbol, nor allow members to secretly revel in their communally recognized beneficence; however, it could begin to create equitable friendships and forge more individualistic notions of altruism.
What is not a secret is who appoints members of societies that voice opinions on campus. Most society inductees are chosen by like-minded members. Unbeknownst to them, many students simply feel a disassociation with the proclamations of secret societies — mainly because they derive authority from their own volition — rather than any visible semblance of student body representation.

With actions that assume virtue through unnecessary and failed attempts at secrecy, societies also cause unintended consequences. Everyday interactions can gain more latent uncertainties as connections, comments and what is left unsaid hints toward the lack of open and honest dialogue.

This letter is not an indictment of secret societies members, as I have no questions of the upstanding character of members. While good intentions undoubtedly thrive in many societies, their real consequences on our campus must always be examined.

Instead, I hope to voice concerns where no other avenue truly exists. I would like nothing more than to “forge an open and honest dialogue,” as some have grown fond of saying at this institution.

Yet, I fear this conversation will be conducted behind closed doors and the secrecy will be justified for reasons that are of questionable legitimacy and the majority of the College population will never know.

I believe some of us were annoyed about this before.

__— Timothy Bacon ’09__

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