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List of Yale University student organizations

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List of Yale University student organizations

There are a number of student organizations at Yale University.

George Pataki. It was the largest student organization at Yale; several groups, including the Yale International Relations Association (YIRA), have laid claim to the title in recent years.

The university features a variety of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. The latter category includes the New Haven.

The campus also includes several fraternities and sororities. The campus features at least 18 a cappella groups, the most prominent of which is The Whiffenpoofs. A number of prominent secret societies, including Skull and Bones, are composed of Yale College students.


  • Fraternities and sororities 1
  • Cultural organizations 2
  • Service/outreach organizations 3
  • Political organizations 4
  • Dance groups 5
  • Musical groups 6
    • A cappella singing groups 6.1
  • Theatrical organizations 7
  • Comedic organizations 8
  • Senior societies 9
    • History and structure 9.1
    • Current societies 9.2
  • Other notable clubs 10
  • Student publications 11
  • Other organizations 12
  • References 13

Fraternities and sororities

The fraternity system in American education was developed at Yale. In 1738, Yale students founded the first selective college organization, a debating society named Crotonia; two competitors sprang up soon after, Linonia (1753) and Brothers in Unity (1768).

In 1780, students created a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a secret academic society begun at the College of William and Mary four years earlier.

In 1832, Phi Beta Kappa's evolution from a secret academic society into a public one led students to set up the Society of Skull and Bones. Secret and senior societies proliferated, and with them, fraternities. Originally, most were part of an interrelated system of socially or academically elite junior, sophomore, and even freshman societies, which fed into the prestigious senior societies. Other types of fraternities, however, were also formed.

In 1932, Yale opened 10 residential colleges, which included elaborate facilities for living and dining. As they became centers of social life, the underclass fraternities began to wither. They became increasingly unpopular in the 1960s, due to the atmosphere of social equality and Yale's decision to require undergraduates to purchase full meal plans. Around 1973, the last two surviving fraternities—Delta Kappa Epsilon and The Fence Club (associated with Psi Upsilon) -- closed and sold their facilities to the University.

As the social and political atmosphere became more moderate and the Connecticut drinking age was changed from 18 to 21, old fraternities began to reopen and new ones were formed; however, these generally bore little resemblance to the old Yale fraternities, as most did not have elaborate houses or the atmosphere of social and campus elitism.[1] Yale’s first sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, was formed in 1985.

The following fraternities and sororities have chapters at Yale:



Non-National Fraternities:

  • the Fence Club (coed)

Cultural organizations

  • Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale
  • AIESEC [10]
  • Arab Students' Association of Yale University
  • Association of Native Americans at Yale (ANAAY)
  • Black Student Alliance at Yale (BSAY)
  • Brazil Club [11]
  • Cambodian American Multi-Branching Organization (CAMBO)
  • Chinese American Students' Association (CASA)
  • Cuban-American Undergraduate Student Association (CAUSA)
  • Despierta Boricua (Puerto Rican Undergraduate Student Association at Yale)
  • Dominican Student Association: Quisqueyalies (DSA)
  • German Society of Undergraduates at Yale University
  • Graduate Poets Reading Series
  • International Students' Organization (ISO)
  • Japanese American Student Union
  • Kasama: Filipino Students at Yale
  • Korean-American Students at Yale (KASY)
  • Lion Dance Troupe at Yale
  • Malaysian and Singaporean Association (MASA)
  • Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán at Yale (MEChA)
  • Polish Students' Society
  • Society for Intellectual Growth and Reinvigoration (SIGAR)
  • Taiwanese American Students (TAS)
  • Vietnamese Students Association
  • Yale Albanian Student Association (YASA)
  • Yale African Students Association
  • Yale British Undergraduates
  • Yale European Undergraduates (YEU)
  • Yale Hellenic Society
  • Yale Hindu Students Council (HSC)
  • Yale Muslim Students Association
  • Yale South Asian Society (SAS)
  • Yale Scandinavian Society (ScanSoc)
  • Young Associates from former Soviet republics, established in 2001.

Service/outreach organizations

  • Amnesty International: Yale College Student Chapter.
  • Dwight Hall, an umbrella community service organization overseeing more than 300 community service and social justice initiatives
  • The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, an undergrad group that assists and advocates for Iraqi refugees in New Haven and the Middle East.
  • The Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project, an undergrad group that runs eight poverty-related projects.
  • Undergraduate Students for Autism Awareness at Yale (USAAY), volunteering with developmentally disabled people.
  • Yale Splash brings high school and middle school students to campus for a day of classes taught by undergraduates.
  • Yale Medical Professions Outreach (YMPO) [12]

Political organizations

Dance groups

  • Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Yale
  • DanceWorks
  • A Different Drum
  • Dzana [17]
  • Freestyle eXpressions Crew
  • Fusion: Modern Belly Dance
  • Groove Dance Company
  • Irish Dancers
  • Konjo
  • Lion Dance Troupe
  • MonstRAASity
  • Phoenix Dance Troupe
  • Rhythmic Blue
  • Yale Rangeela
  • Steppin' Out
  • Sabrosura, Latin dance team
  • Taps
  • Yale Ballroom Dance Team
  • Yale Belly Dance Society
  • Yale Jashan Bhangra Team
  • Yaledancers
  • Yale Swing & Blues
  • Yale Tango Club

Musical groups

Student musical groups include five university-sponsored organizations composed primarily of undergraduates:

  • Yale Concert Band [18].
  • Yale Glee Club [19]. Founded in 1861, the Glee Club is Yale's principal undergraduate mixed chorus, and today includes about 80 men and women who sing classical and modern choral works, American spirituals, and Yale songs.
  • Yale Jazz Ensemble [20], an 18-piece big band/swing band
  • Yale Precision Marching Band [21], a scatter band that performs at home football games and many hockey and basketball games. They are known for their comedic halftime shows and arrangements of popular music.
  • Yale Symphony Orchestra [22], a full orchestra that performs classical and modern pieces.

In addition, the student-run Davenport Pops Orchestra [23], Saybrook College Orchestra [24], Berkeley College Orchestra [25], Jonathan Edwards Chamber Philharmonic [26], and Bach Society [27] all provide free concerts of symphonic masterworks. Other groups include:

A cappella singing groups

Undergraduates also sing in at least 18 a cappella groups.

All men

All women

  • Whim 'n' Rhythm [38]. All women, seniors only, founded in 1981 to launch a tradition similar to the Whiffenpoofs'.
  • The New Blue of Yale [39] was established in 1969, when Yale College first admitted women undergraduates. Its members were the first women to step inside of Mory's.
  • Proof of the Pudding [40] is Yale's all female jazz and swing a cappella group. It was founded in 1975.
  • The Yale Women's Slavic Chorus [41], founded in 1969, sings Eastern European folk songs. It is also the only women-only organization officially endowed by Yale.
  • Something Extra [42] was founded in 1977.


  • Redhot & Blue [43], founded in 1977 as Yale's first co-educational a cappella group, is known for its intricate jazz-based arrangements.
  • Living Water [44], founded in 1979, is Yale's only Christian a cappella group.
  • Mixed Company of Yale [45], founded in 1981.
  • Out of the Blue [46], founded in 1987, is Yale's "only co-ed, pop-rock a cappella group."
  • Shades of Yale [47], founded in 1988 to sing the music of the African diaspora, including R&B and gospel.
  • Magevet [48], founded in 1993, is Yale's "first, best, and only Jewish a cappella singing group."
  • The Yale Gospel Choir [49], founded in 1973, "to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministry of song."
  • Pitches & Tones, founded in 2011.
  • Tangled Up in Blue [50] or TUIB, founded in 1986, is Yale's only undergraduate folk music singing group.

Theatrical organizations

  • The Yale Dramatic Association [51], founded in 1900, is the second-oldest college theatre company in the country; "The Dramat" has featured the work of such noted Yale graduates as Cole Porter, Thornton Wilder, and Stephen Vincent Benet. It typically produces seven productions a year, including two full-scale musicals in the University Theater. Smaller-scale productions are mounted on the stage of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the School Of Drama's black box theatre. Former Dramat members include (among others) Sam Waterston, Austin Pendleton, George Roy Hill, John Badham, and Cheryl Henson.
  • The Yale Drama Coalition [52] promotes the theater community and improves communication between the 100-plus student-directed and -produced plays each semester. These plays are generally funded by the CPA Funds of each residential college, which award up to $1,400 to mount art shows and theatrical productions by members of that college.
  • The Control Group. Founded in 2000, Yale's experimental theatre company puts on two to four productions a year, primarily in unconventional theater spaces.
  • Heritage Theatre Ensemble, founded in 1979 (HTE), and reformed in 2011 supports Black theater on campus and elsewhere in New Haven.
  • The Yale College Theatrical Combat Association, founded in 2010, organizes workshops and provides opportunities for student choreographers and actors.
  • Sacer Ludus, a small dramatic group formed in 2009.
  • Teatro de Yale supports Latino/Latin-American theatre on campus and elsewhere in New Haven.
  • The Yale Gilbert and Sullivan Society [53] produces two operettas per year.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Musical Theater Company, YUMTC, [54] produces musical theater.
  • The Yale College Original Shakespeare Company, founded in 2010, produces two productions a year: one cue-script show in keeping with original Elizabethan rehearsal practices and one fully staged production.

Comedic organizations

Humor publications (in order of founding)
Improvisational comedy troupes (in order of founding)
Sketch comedy groups (in order of founding)
  • The Fifth Humour (1986) [61]
  • Sphincter Troupe (2002)
  • Red Hot Poker (2005) [62]

Senior societies

History and structure

In the 19th century, the Yale social structure became dominated by a unique network of societies, many of them secret, open only to seniors. They are called "senior societies" collectively, but secret senior societies also carry the sobriquet "secret societies". Invitations to join were (and in many cases, are today) extended late in junior year on "tap day".

Secondary to the proliferation of senior societies, societies of underclassmen sprang up. Most of these were limited to members of a single class (junior, senior, freshman). The underclass societies entirely died out with the formation of the residential college system in the 1930s, but most of the senior societies still exist.

Commonly, senior societies have 15 members and, once initiation is finished, they are members for life. Some have imposing, nearly-windowless buildings on campus, known as "tombs" or "halls" [63].

The structure and rules of the societies vary extensively. Journalists have attempted to ferret out the goings-on inside the secret societies, especially concerning Skull and Bones, due to both the mystery of the society and the prominence of its members. The degree of their success is difficult to assess, as members are generally unwilling to speak about it and access to meetings (or even the inside of the tombs) is difficult to obtain. Thus, verification of facts is difficult.

The secret societies have regular weekly meetings and it is known that meals are served, either by eyewitness account or by the presence of food delivery trucks regularly seen at side doors. Skull and Bones apparently forbids alcohol, although others do not. Most reputable commentators state that meeting include both outright silliness and serious discussions.

Yale's senior societies differ significantly from the final clubs at Harvard and even more from Princeton's eating clubs. Harvard's final clubs are not limited to seniors; however, they are not known to be "secret", have a more pronounced social function, and traditionally place more emphasis on family connections. Harvard also maintains a large society for underclassmen, "Hasty Pudding", from which most final club members are recruited.[5] Princeton's eating clubs are more similar to non-residential fraternities.

Current societies

  • Skull and Bones, the oldest and most famous [64]
  • Scroll and Key, second oldest and wealthiest, occupies Moorish Beaux-Arts building. [65].
  • Wolf's Head, third-oldest; largest compound on campus. [66]
  • Elihu began in 1903. It occupies a federal-era house on the perimeter of the New Haven Green. Elihu was the first non-secret "senior society."[67]
  • Book and Snake [68], occupies a replica Greek temple.
  • Berzelius, founded as the Colony Club in 1848 at the Sheffield Scientific School; tapped first African-American captain of an Ivy League football team.
  • St. Elmo's founded as Delta Phi Omicron in 1889
  • Aurelian Honor Society, founded 1910, first society to tap women. Oldest existing Honor Society at Yale.
  • Torch Honor Society, founded 1916. Second oldest existing Honor Society at Yale.
  • Manuscript Society occupies a modern building and garden by noted architects.
  • Mace and Chain youngest tomb society. Founded in 1956, it occupies a 180-year-old house near campus. [69]
  • Calliopean Society, founded in 1919 as a literary and debating society, became a Senior Honor Society in the mid-20th century.
  • Red Mask, the oldest all-women's society at Yale.
  • DSG, the second oldest all-women's society at Yale.
  • Linonian Society. Members include undergraduates and graduate students from Yale Law School, Yale Graduate School and Yale School of Management. Originally founded in 1753, it was reconstituted after merging with the Yale Political Union in 1934, and stores its literary collection in Yale's Sterling Memorial Library.
  • Cup and Crown[6]
  • St. Anthony Hall, founded 1867, only remaining three-year society. Although outsiders may enter the building and attend social events, part of the building is closed and retains the earmarks of a Yale secret society. The current (its third) building, when donated by a Vanderbilt in 1913, described by The New York Times as "the most expensive and elaborate secret society building in the United States."[70]

Other notable clubs

Private clubs at Yale exhibit a range of membership models: all-student, student-faculty, or student-faculty-alumni, and a gamut of topical interests or organizing missions. Some are almost as well known as famous Official Preppy Handbook.

  • The Yale Anti-Gravity Society is a fun loving group of people that practice juggling and related skills.
  • The Elizabethan Club is a literary discussion club, with a reciprocal relationship with the Signet Society at Harvard. Researchers may request access through Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to items in "The Lizzie's" private collection of Shakespeariana and other British historico-literary material. Reference: The Elizabethan Club of Yale University and Its Library, Stephen Parks; Introduction by Alan Bell, Yale University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-300-03669-8
  • Mory's is a dining club for alumni, faculty and student members. Its carved paneling, silver cups, Yale memorabilia and atmosphere make it an echt-Yale venue for the Whiffenpoofs and other singing groups' performances.
  • The Chai Society, founded in 1996, is a private dining and social club occupying a brownstone on the Yale campus, adjacent to several properties which it also owns, and into which it is gradually expanding. Founded on principles of Jewish leadership and communal identity at Yale and in the world at large, its membership is open to all students and faculty regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. In 2006, the trustees of the Chai Society, Inc., the 501c3 non-profit which supports the activities of the Yale student club, legally changed its name to Eliezer, Inc. [71]
  • The Fence Club was the historical name for the Psi Upsilon fraternity at Yale. In 1934, Psi Upsilon, by then a venerable junior fraternity, renounced its national affiliation and became the Fence Club, in honor of the CIA Director Porter Goss and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte were members. The former clubhouse at 220 York St., designed by James Gamble Rogers is used by the University as classrooms.[72] In 2009, Fence Club moved its clubhouse to 401 Crown St, and in 2010, moved again to a more permanent location, at 15 High St. After the second-semester tap, in January 2010, Fence Club was a co-ed organization with over 60 members, highlighting the changes that this iteration of the group has undergone over its short lifespan.
  • The Yale Society for the Exploration of Campus Secrets (or YSECS) is a club devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Yale's campus. The society is said to possess knowledge of the entirety of Yale's rooftops, tunnels, and hidden places. Unlike the senior societies, members are chosen through an application process. Their public motto is Omnia Arcana Illustrabuntur (OAI), or "all secret things will be revealed." They have described themselves as being the ones that remember Yale's forgotten past. All members are said to have a group-mandated mark somewhere on their bodies.
  • The Rockingham Club (1981–1986) was founded by British-born Yale undergrad Lord Nicholas Hervey as a social club for Yale student descendants of royalty or aristocracy, a requirement later modified to allow membership by offspring of the "super-wealthy." The club survived only five years and the clubhouse (privately purchased by a small group of members including Hervey and Salem Chalabi) was an off-campus clapboard building housing a full length portrait of Lord Hervey, Lord Hervey himself (he took six years to graduate), as well as a ballroom and chandelier and held parties whose invitations were in demand by a certain demographic of Yalies and their guests (predominantly homosexuals, bisexuals, arts majors, and those aspiring to attend formal balls and/or socialize with by-gone title-heirs and the exceptionally wealthy).
  • The Corsair Club, The Zodiac Club, The Kittens Club, and the Round Table. Dining clubs that appear to have existed at Yale in the 19th century. (See researcher's reference at
  • Yale Mountaineering Club

Student publications

  • The Yale Anglers' Journal, bi-annual undergraduate journal devoted to "angling and the natural world," founded 1996.
  • Atrium Magazine, cultural commentary, reflections, and critiques centered on medicine and the healthcare industry.
  • The Yale Banner, the nation's college yearbook, founded 1841. Also publishes several other campus publications, including The Old Campus freshman Facebook, first published in 1939.
  • Broad Recognition, Yale's online feminist magazine.
  • The Yale Daily News, or YDN, the nation's oldest daily college newspaper, founded 1878.
  • The Yale Economic Review, semiannual journal of popular economics.
  • The Yale Entrepreneur, focuses on local, national, and international entrepreneurship; sponsored by the Yale Entrepreneurial Society (YES).
  • The Yale Epicurean, founded 2009, promotes discourse on gastronomy and the culinary arts at Yale and in New Haven.
  • The Yale Globalist, quarterly international affairs magazine.
  • The Yale Herald, weekly student newspaper, founded 1986.
  • The Yale Journal of International Affairs, a biannual graduate publication devoted to international relations and contemporary politics. [73]
  • Yale Law Journal, an academic review published by Yale Law School.
  • The Yale Literary Magazine, the nation's oldest literary review, founded 1836; bi-annually publishes Yale undergraduate poetry and fiction.
  • The New Journal, Yale's oldest and largest-circulating undergraduate magazine, covering both the university and New Haven, founded 1967.
  • The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM), first published in 1928, is the oldest graduate and medical student publication in print.
  • The Yale Journal of Medicine and Law, quarterly undergraduate journal about health care.
  • Perspecta: The Yale Architectural Journal, the nation's oldest student-edited architectural journal.
  • The Yale Philosophy Review, an annual journal of undergraduate philosophy.
  • The Yale Politic, quarterly political journal dating to 1947.
  • The Yale Record, the nation's oldest campus humor magazine, founded 1872.
  • Rumpus Magazine, a monthly tabloid covering campus gossip; annually features a list of "Yale's 50 Most Beautiful."
  • The Yale Scientific Magazine, the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific publication, founded 1894 and published quarterly.
  • The Yale Standard, an independent Christian campus publication since 1969, published by students and alumni. website
  • YUM (Yale Undergraduate Magazine), a literary magazine publishing short stories, poems, creative non-fiction, and artwork.

Other organizations

  • The Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund is the first undergraduate-run SRI fund in the United States.
  • Bulldog Productions is the only undergraduate film production company at Yale University and one of the few such in top-tier American liberal arts universities.
  • The Crotonia Literary Society is a workshopping and exhibition group, a literary organization without an emphasis on publication.
  • The Yale Anime Society is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of anime and manga.
  • The Yale College Student Investment Group [74] is the largest student-run investment group in the Ivy League schools.
  • The Yale Engineering Design Team, founded in 2003, helps students work on engineering projects and competitions; it runs the annual daylong Junk Yale Wars, in which students build something out of junk to some set of design specifications.
  • The Yale Entrepreneurial Society is a nonprofit that encourages entrepreneurship and business development in the New Haven area.
  • The Yale Event Management Association helps New Haven businesses run events and other marketing efforts, aimed particularly at Yale students.
  • The Yale Friends of Israel is a non-partisan umbrella organization for everything relating to Israel at Yale. The group works to further understanding of and support for Israel through cultural, political, and educational programming across the political spectrum.[7]
  • The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association, founded in 2010, is Yale's largest engineering student organization.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Consulting Group [75] is a not-for-profit consulting and marketing organization.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Business Society publishes a semiannual magazine, Business Sphere Magazine, about international and domestic business.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Psychological Society (YUPS) [76] conducts experiments and promotes psychological science on campus. Their YUPS cube advertises recent psychology-related news and theories.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Screenwriters Guild promotes the artistic interests and endeavors of all Yale undergraduate writers of film, television, and other related media.
  • The Society for Healthcare Entrepreneurship and Management at Yale School of Medicine [77] helps students, residents and faculty of the Yale School of Medicine explore the application of business principles in healthcare.
  • YTV is the student-operated, closed-circuit cable channel that broadcasts 24 hours a day.
  • The Yale Biomedical Engineering Society


  1. ^ Yale's senior societies were "elite" but, in all fairness, depended less on family status than those at Princeton and Harvard. They were more inclusive of men from poor and undistinguished families who achieved prominence on campus in such areas as athletics, academics, and student organizations. See " Tombs and Taps: An inside look at Yale's Fraternities, Sororities and Societies",
  2. ^ Libertarian Party Campus Organizations
  3. ^ The Rev. James M. Howard, Yale Class of 1909, "An Authentic Account of the Founding of the Whiffenpoofs".
  4. ^ Scherer, Barrymore L. "The Yale Russian Chorus, Diplomats of Song." The Wall Street Journal 23 Oct. 2003
  5. ^ That Yale's senior societies place value on family connections is indisputable, given the prevalence of sons of members and scions of famous families; however, it is well known that persons from less famous families with certain success in their campus career, such as the Editor of the Yale Daily News and the captain of the football team, are often elected.
  6. ^ The Yale Herald: "Tapping In" March 30, 2012
  7. ^
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