Sons of Liberty will issue apologies for recent prank

The Sons of Liberty, a secret society at the University, will publicly apologize for a prank pulled on a Range resident that was misconstrued as a personal act, a member of the Sons of Liberty said.

The group annually honors 13 "rebels" and pulls pranks on "redcoats" on Thomas Jefferson's birthday, said the Sons of Liberty member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The group poured tea down the chimney of Darden doctoral student Paul Harper's Range room in jest April 13, the Sons of Liberty member said. Along with the tea, Harper, who declined to comment for this article, received a letter calling him a "tyrant." No damage was done to the Range room, the Sons of Liberty member added.

The Sons of Liberty member said the group mistakenly thought Harper, who is also a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, was trying to change the Range constitution to favor Jefferson Society members in the Range selection process through his position as vice chair for selections on the Range Selection Committee.

After the incident occurred, however, the Sons of Liberty learned Harper was not trying to change the constitution to favor Jefferson Society members, the Sons of Liberty member said. The Sons of Liberty member said he could understand how a misinterpretation might occur and added that the prank was intended in good humor.

Harper, however, initially thought, and stated in an e-mail to Range Council Chair Gavin Reddick that he had received "a threatening note from a secret society targeting him personally," Reddick said.

As a result of the perceived personal threat, Reddick said Harper resigned from his position on the Range Selection Committee.

The Range Selection Committee is currently in the process of selecting Range residents for the upcoming year, Jefferson Society member and Range resident Thomas Bryan said.

Bryan noted that there is an unusually high number of Jefferson Society members who live on the Range this year, a fact that has contributed to a perception shared by some Range residents that the Jefferson Society is "trying to overtake the Range."

Bryan added that he thought Harper stepped down in part to assure the University community of the integrity of the Range Selection Committee.

"He did not want the perception that he was trying to control the process," Bryan said.

The member of the Sons of Liberty said the secret society is going to write letters of apology to be publicly displayed to Harper, the Jefferson Society and the chair of the Range.

In addition to the prank involving Harper's room, Jefferson Hall, home to the Jefferson Society, has also been the site of pranks conducted recently by the Sons of Liberty.

Bryan said the Sons of Liberty put the Jefferson Hall podium in a trashcan full of tea April 4.

"It was sort of funny, but it came close to potentially being vandalism," Bryan said.

The Sons of Liberty also left a letter and a red jacket that appeared to be tarred and feathered on the podium April 13, Bryan said. The Sons of Liberty member, however, said chocolate sauce, not tar, covered the jacket.

According to Wayne Cozart, Alumni Association vice president of alumni engagement, who has given public presentations about the University's numerous secret organizations, the Sons of Liberty is a relatively young group on Grounds that emerged in the past three to five years.

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