The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

21 Society debuts at University in secrecy

Hoping to instill a greater sense of student self-governance at the University, a new secret society just announced its formation. The name of the new secret society is The 21 Society, founded on June 21, 1999.

According to a letter dated that same day, and left at The Cavalier Daily office, The 21 Society was founded in order "to unify the politically active students of the University."

There were 21 letters distributed to certain individuals and organizations at the University that were discovered Tuesday.

Each recipient's letter had a different number. The Cavalier Daily received the 17th letter.

"I don't know if it's real or not," Assist. Dean of Students Aaron Laushway said. "I have asked several people if they are associated with it, and they deny with almost passionate glee" any involvement with The 21 Society.

"I know nothing about it," said Larry J. Sabato, government and foreign affairs professor, "but based solely on the wording of the letter, the group seems legitimate and positive in its orientation."

The 21 Society's letter states that the group wants to lead University students "by increasing student and administration awareness of the concerns of some of the more active students."

Additionally, the letter refers to the events of the last 21 months that "have posed a direct challenge to student self-governance."

The 21 Society specifically mentioned its belief in "the autonomy of the student judicial system" as well as its desire to promote "activism among concerned members of the University community."

Student Council received the sixth letter out of 21, according to Office Manager Pat Payne. The Honor Commitee also received a letter.

The 21 Society gave Alexander Gilliam, Secretary to the Board of Visitors, the eighth letter, while Assoc. Dean of Students Shamim Sisson received the 16th letter.

Other recipients of The 21 Society's announcement letter include William W. Harmon, vice president for student affairs, who received the 20th letter.

President John T. Casteen III also said he heard about the new society.

"I am told the letter ... is somewhere here, but I have not seen it," Casteen said.