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Secret societies are an integral part of MU traditions

Thursday, July 28, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:20 a.m. CDT, Saturday, April 14, 2012
Members of QEBH wait to be tapped on Tap Day held in Jesse Auditorium, due to weather, on Friday. QEBH is the oldest recognized secret honor society at MU.

COLUMBIA — Every April, select students are honored for their dedication and commitment to academics, leadership, service, and campus or community involvement in the Tap Day ceremony.

Students are "tapped" into one of MU's six secret societies in the days leading up to the ceremony and officially inducted during Tap Day festivities.

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MU's secret societies include QEBH, Mystical Seven, LSV, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa and the Rollins Society.

Typically the honor societies induct juniors who participate with the group throughout their senior year.

Others have been working with the honor society during their junior year, and Tap Day serves as a opportunity for them to finally be recognized for their involvement.

Frequently those inducted into MU's secret societies work for campus groups and organizations such as Summer Welcome, Tour Team and Residential Life.

Many of the societies perform honorary taps, meaning they choose university faculty, staff and others who have had a positive impact on students and embody the various aspects of  the society.

Notable honor taps for QEBH include Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Sen. Claire McCaskill, former Sen. Kit Bond and MU Chancellor Brady Deaton.

In last year's Tap Day ceremony, John Kadlec the football radio analyst, nicknamed Mr. Mizzou, was honor-tapped into Omicron Delta Kappa. Sports broadcaster Mike Kelly was tapped into Mystical Seven.

THE SOCIETIES

QEBH: This society was founded in 1898 by Royall Hill Switzler. Seven individuals are selected each year to join the group — six juniors and one sophomore. Only they know the meaning of the letters.

Mystical Seven: The society was revealed in 1907. Although, it is commonly referred to as the second oldest secret society, many of its members claim it operated in secrecy even before QEBH. Only seven people are inducted to Mystical Seven each year.

LVS: It was founded by a group focused on women's interests in 1908.

Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa: These are national collegiate honor societies. Omicron Delta Kappa started a chapter at at MU in 1933. Mortar Board installed a chapter at MU in 1942.

Rollins Society: It was founded in 1994 to recognize graduate and professional students.

THE RITUALS

MU will be celebrating its 85th annual Tap Day ceremony in April 2012. It typically takes place outside on Francis Quadrangle, although Jesse Hall is used in case of bad weather.

Anonymity is required. Inductees are dressed in robes with hoods over their faces, and they conceal their identity as they proceed through the ceremony. A list of their involvements and accomplishments is read, and as they are officially inducted, the hood is removed and their identity revealed for friends and family.

The societies and most their activities are conducted in secrecy and shrouded in intrigue. However, a handful of MU's secret societies take care of items that MU wins against rival football teams.

  • QEBH exchanges the Victory Bell with Nebraska's Society of Innocents based on who wins the Missouri-Nebraska football game.
  • The Friars Chapter of Mortar Board associated with MU and Black Masque Chapter of Mortar Board at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln exchange a gavel at each football game. 
  • Mystical Seven is the caretaker of the peace pipe awarded after a victory against Oklahoma.
  • The Indian War Drum, given to the winner of the Border War game that pits MU against Kansas, is cared for by Omicron Delta Kappa.

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