According to an article he penned for the progressive website AlterNet, former Michigan Daily editor and Students for a Democratic Society leader Tom Hayden turned down membership in Michigamua – in the 1960s. However, he admits joing the now-defunct (I think) LSA society called the Druids.
” … I was a member of a secret society during the same era as Bush and Kerry, at the University of Michigan, and can testify that these are profoundly lasting experiences. As a junior, I was tapped for the Druids, which involved a two-day ritual that included being stripped to my underpants, pelted with eggs, smeared with red dye and tied to a campus tree. These humiliations signified my rebirth from lowly student journalist to Big Man on Campus.
Soon, however, I became alienated. None of the bonding could make me feel I actually belonged. Perhaps I was an outsider by nature, an Irish Catholic descendant of immigrants, first in my family to attend university. The clubbiness had one purpose, as a source told Alexandra Robbins for her book on Skull and Bones. It was “to make the other people who didn’t get in feel bad.” But even as an insider, I felt bad, undeserving, resentful.
When I was tapped in my senior year for the most prestigious secret society, Michigauma, I decided instead to hide out in a girlfriend’s apartment, becoming the first refusenik in Michigauma history. But I still felt like something was wrong with me, that I didn’t have the right stuff, that I was blowing my future. … “
> AlterNet.org: “When bonesman fight”
> See my related post: Current student government leaders ‘turn down the tap’
Who were the Druids, you ask? For that, we turn to something called “The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey” This is a massive set of volumes about University history published between 1817 and 1975, although most of the contents were written and compiled in the 1940s and 1950s. The university has digitized all the volumes in this set and made them searchable online at this URL:
A quick search pulled up this entry from a 1940s volume of the survey in a section about a number of campus societies, including Michigamua, Druids, Mortar Board, Sphinx, Owls, Vulcans, Triangles, most of which no longer exist.
On a spring evening of each year, the members of Druids, garbed in their traditional gowns and hoods, with torches in hand, march from the Forest room in the Union to the Druid rock where some twenty neophytes await the ordeal of initiation. Finishing this informal part of the proceedings, the members, singing the “Men of Druids” song, lead the “Awenyds” back to the Forest room, where formal ceremonies are held. With these at an end, a new class is welcomed into the society to carry on the purpose and traditions of Druids.
The organization was established in 1909-10 by twenty men as the Senior Honorary Society of the Literary College, with eligibility to membership based upon meritorious services to the University and selection by the members. Professor Arthur L. Cross and the late Dean John R. Effinger were chosen as the first two honorary members from the faculty, remaining active until their deaths. Druids counts among its alumni the late Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy and Dean Earl Moore, of the School of Music.
The purpose of Druids is to coalesce the aims and efforts of its members so as to serve the University better by lending the united support of the society to each member in his fields of activity.
Thomas K. Fisher”
What evidence is there that the Druids no longer exist? In Fall 2000, a Druid alumn wrote a letter to the official U-M newsletter Michigan Today asking whether the organization was still active, saying “Like Michigamua, Druids was assigned a private meeting room in the Union Tower. On several visits to the Michigan Union in the years since I graduated, I inquired of staff as to whether Druids still existed and met in the Union and whether I could have access its meeting room but none of the Union staffers to whom I spoke has ever acknowledged having any knowledge of either Druids or Michigamua.” The next month, in a letter reminiscing about that organization’s induction rituals, 1964 graduate Roger Lowenstein quips that “Mr. Berger owes us some 37 years of back membership dues, plus interest. He may send the check to me and I’ll take care of it.” Draw your own conclusions.