Pranks could damage secretive fraternity’s reputation, expert says
Someone at Yale University is using the Skull & Bones fraternity’s “mysterious nature” to prank students into performing humiliating tasks with the promise of inducting them into the secret society, the AP reports.
Yale police say they’ve received calls from three students who said they were contacted by an anonymous caller claiming to be a Skull & Bones member.
Students said they were told the call was part of the “tap” process, and were instructed to hand their phone off to someone close by to them, who was then asked inappropriate questions of a sexual nature.
One Yale junior, Cole Addonizio, described receiving the call, which he suspected to be a prank.
“I figured it was a prank since I hadn’t heard about them calling them like this,” Addonizio said, according to the AP.
He said he played along with the caller and handed the phone to his brother, but then hung up the phone after he was asked inappropriate questions.
The author of “Skull and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale’s Secret Societies,” David Alan Richards, says the prank could potentially damage the fraternity’s reputation.
“While famously its mantra has been ‘Never respond, never explain,’ because it doesn’t see itself as a public organization, in today’s climate to have allowed that to happen could conceivably damage the society’s reputation,” Richards told the AP. “It was a foul thing to do.”
The secret society, through a rare note sent to juniors by its student government, “has encouraged people who received such calls to report the incident to Yale police or their college dean,” reports the AP.
Skull & Bones, AKA “The Order,” is well-known for grooming mostly male college students who later go on to have high-profile business, entertainment, journalism or political careers. The New York Times reported that the secret society began accepting women in 1991.
“The family names on the Skull and Bones roster roll off the tongue like an elite party list,” writes Kris Millegan in his comprehensive book, Fleshing Out Skull & Bones. “Lord, Whitney, Taft, Jay, Bundy, Harriman, Weyerhaeuser, Pinchot, Rockefeller, Goodyear, Sloane, Stimson, Phelps, Perkins, Pillsbury, Kellogg, Vanderbilt, Bush, Lovett and others.”
President George H. W. Bush, his father Prescott, and son George W. Bush, the 43rd president, were “bonesmen,” as well as 27th US President William Howard Taft, whose father Alphonso helped form the organization. The 2004 presidential election saw two bonesmen, George W. Bush and John Kerry, face off representing both the Republican and Democrat political parties.