Name Michigan’s Premier Secret Society!

That’s right folks, you’ve got the chance to name a secret society!

According to my sources, the premier University of Michigan secret senior honor society has recently voted to abandon the name Michigamua. The change is apparently in an attempt to convince the community they have “changed” and to distance themselves from a 90+ year history intertwined with offensive references to Native American culture, complete with loin cloths, headdresses, Native-sounding nicknames, and an elaborate organization mythology. Although the organization seems to have abandoned some of these traditions in the 1990s, the Student of Color Coalition Michigan Union Tower Occupation of 2000 proved to most they had not taken the steps they promised to make in 1989 and remove all reference to Native American culture from their practices. I’ve uploaded a number of relevant documents to my Flickr account. As a note, in 2000 the organization decided to add a subtitled, calling themselves “Michigamua: New Traditions for a New Millennium” but it didn’t seem to stick anywhere but their official website.

Thus, I’m proud to announce the first-ever Secret Society Naming Competition. While I can’t promise the actual organization will adopt the name, I do know many members frequent this website and I’m sure they’ll consider any quality submissions. I also promise to use the winning name with due credit prolifically on this site. To enter, simply leave your suggestion in the comments before noon on Thursday, April 13th. I will consult my secret panel of judges (It’s only fitting, right?) and announce the winner later that day. Good luck!

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. I don’t understand the hostility toward this group, Rob. Sure, it took them a long time to get their act together after everyone realized the Native American stuff was offensive.

    But does anyone really doubt that they’ve totally abandoned the offensive practices? Knowing what we do about Dana Baki, Sam Woll, Jaya Soni and Brian Hull, do you think those people would participate in a group that bastardizes Native American culture?

    Isn’t it possible that those people accepted their taps because they wanted to bring change to a slow-moving institution — the very definition, in my mind, of what progressives are supposed to do — and that, if the rumors are true, they’re now finally succeeding? And shouldn’t we now praise them for it?

  2. WANRAM-CF: pronounced Whanrum. Named after the ancient noble tribe of bullshitopia. Stands for “We are not racist anymore (cross fingers)”

  3. To “a2 townie”:

    Thanks for your comment. I have a couple replies:

    First, I believe the history of Michigamua is so deeply ingrained the organization cannot “recover” from their past. Their entire history is tied up in this Native American stuff and I don’t think the limited (and ambiguous) role they’ve played fundraising for the university or otherwise “fighting for Michigan” offsets the damage of this history. While the recent members you mention have perhas made “progress” (and I haven’t seen much evidence) I wonder at what cost to the campus community, and whether their efforts are ultimately worth the division and harm they create in their communities.

    Second, I don’t believe every organization is worth infiltrating and changing. Some organizations with shameful pasts are worthy of reform because they are unique: we only have one government, for example, and it cannot be avoided no matter how ethically ambiguous its history.

    Private (or quasi-private) organizations are another matter entirely. In my mind, the would-be reformers you list have not made a convincing argument about how Michigamua serves campus.

    There’s also an elitism argument which can be made against Michigamua, however I will omit doing that here because although I believe it the strongest it doesn’t seem to persuade very many people, so I assume it’s either a commentary about my radical beliefs or the shifting character of our political culture.

  4. i would just like to comment on the hypocrisy of the hate towards elitism that comes from jenny nathan and rob goodspeed. you both have websites titled with your own names that shout out certain progressive ideals that are never allowed to be questioned without the fear of being labelled as a racist. both of your websites are designed to push your own political agendas. you both believe that your own ways of creating social justice are the only ways allowed to be taken, and by creating such an ultimatum you become just as closed-minded as the religious right. rob, to hear that gamua is changing their name and for you to automatically create a joke post to create a new name for them shows how trully dependent you are on hate towards michigamua to keep the attention towards your personal website alive. if you were a true progressive you would see this as an opportunity to work towards justice and peace, and not an opportunity to push your own popularity.

  5. hey thinkforyourself, what the hell is wrong with having your own website with your name in it? I remember Brian Hull making a comment like this in the daily awhile back…so I’m guessing this is a gamua member. You have a point with some of the hate, but seriously man, the website name argument makes you seem like a douchebag. Have a nice day.

  6. I say we rename this crap society after the guy that knows the most about it.


    This guy has his finger on the pulse of Ann Arbor, keep up the good work Rob. We are counting on you to force feed us misguided info so we sound smart when we go back to our safety net of “social activists.” We rely on you Rob, keep us informed.

  7. oh and let me elaborate. their own agendas belong on their own blogs. you know, I remember one of the biggest arguments gamua had before the 89 agreement was free speech. irony that gamua members are against this blog? what are you afraid of? goodspeed not being humble on his own website? the fact that gamua talks about that they’re humble makes them not humble.

  8. We all know that Rob is not popular, he was probably made fun of a great deal in high school.

    Goodspeed wanted to be in Michigamua, or whatever it is now called, but he was not chosen. :-(

    But following the previous thoughts, elitism is not really that big of a charge against this group, it can not be. They are “elitist” because they have the leaders from around campus? What kind of sense does that make? The University is elitist because it rejects people as well. Don’t we chant, “If you don’t go to Michigan then you should go to State…If you don’t go to State…well who cares” As a University we talk about how great we are and we do not hesitate to tease OSU and MSU fans about how they don’t go to Michigan, when in fact they probably did not get in? “Elitism,” as Rob and Jenny like to point out is all around us from the school we go to, the people we associate with, even to the way famous bars and clubs will only let “good” looking people in.

    On another note, what’s really fearful to see is how so many people have hate in their hearts and minds. For those who are trying to create peace, it’s quite easy to see the progress Michigamua has made this year. People like Sam, Brian, and Neal have walked away from their organizations without staging protests against those organizations. Sam still attended anti-Coke campgains, Brian still spearheaded various projects in the LGBT community, and Neal still attended SAAN as a participant – if they are not mad, why are you? Michigamua has also given itself to the Daily by giiving various view points. They make statements about change when they don’t even have to. Sam Woll’s statement about looking at the past through a modern lense makes the past look wrong is so utterly true, but no one mentions that here. Rob continues to mention the headresses and loinclothes that Michigamua used in pre 1970 public ceremonies (which all University students would come out and watch). Continuing on, where do some of our strongest progressives on campus (many of you guys) go along the lines of saying things like “Michigamua cannot change” or they cannot “recover from their past”? What kind of belief is that? If that simplistic and pessimistic attitude had kept up, the coke coalition would never have been able to get coke of campus, colored people still would not have a vote and there would be no change in our world. It’s a bit hypocritical to be a progressive then assume that something can’t change…

    I urge all of you, stop hiding these thoughts on blogs and behind your doors, or even hearts. Go out there and talk to Michigamua members like Brian Hull, Sam Woll, and Neal Pancholi. When you see them walking down the street, pull them over, introduce yourself and tell them your thoughts and questions. Engage in dialogue, know who they are as people before just labeling them as “racist” – I know I have, and it has made all the difference.

    Stop being so mad.

  9. Rob et al:

    I don’t believe that an organization must establish itself as useful before it becomes worthy of a place on campus. That’s just not the way it works. If the mere presence of a reformed Michigamua divides or harms the UM community, I believe that is the UM community’s problem – not Michigamua’s.

    It was this same community that, over several decades, made a series of arguments about why Michigamua needed to change or die. These included:

    1) The name is offensive;
    2) The practices are offensive;
    3) Its elitist.

    Insofar as the first two gripes are concerns, Michigamua has done exactly what the campus has asked them to do. I believe that the racist/offensive practices have stopped. With this, they’re throwing out what seem to be the last vestiges of their racist past. If these reforms are inadequate, I’m curious why. Is this is a question of tolerance – rather, a lack thereof – among current and former UM progressives? Or is it that these same progressives, unable to see that they’ve won, would much rather carry on the fight for its own sake?

    I don’t buy the elitism argument. UM is an elite university with elite students. You were once one Rob, and, if I’m not mistaken, graduated from the Honors College – an elite subdivision of an already elite school. And Boyle, alumnus of The University of Michigan Law School… “Richigamua?” Some nerve.

  10. Hey Thinkforyourself,

    I actually think that Michigamua should be lauded on its proposal to alter its name. I believe that my friends in the organization, particularly Hull and Woll (they rhyme) probably played a large role in inspiring that change. This is a great step, and I agree with you. But it stops about right there…

    Goodspeed and Jenny (also good friends of mine) have the right to an opinion, and it is their blog. Your claim that they shut out opinion is truly laughable. To have an opinion and to put it on an open blog is quite productive to discussion. I mean, come on, they have a blog that allows you to criticize them anonymously, fucker.

    I currently reside in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt is a totalitarian state. The emergency laws which can be used in threats to national security (often defined by political threats to those in power of government) in place allow the state to, Arrest suspects with relative ease and detain them for long periods of time without a trial, Turn civilians over to be trialed in a military court, Deny citizens from protesting, gathering in large numbers in public, and, Censor or shut a paper down in the name of national security. This is a country where Political parties have to be approved by the Political Parties committee controlled by the NDP which need to provide a new ideological view – parties that compete with already existing parties legitimately are shut out of the process. Parties aren’t even allowed to change their original views, leading to a lack of innovation or change in the political system (another story).

    I live in a place where the media is controlled, and what you say about President Hosni Mubarak (Mubarak, I must say as a side note, even though I haven’t met him, is an outstanding leader from everything I have heard from the government controlled newspapers, the people in the country, and my school’s books which are censored) can lead to phone calls and encounters with threatening secret police. This happened to a good friend of mine, who was accosted by six random members of the government because she said some things (far less sensitive that I’m writing now) about the government.

    I live in a closed society which I doubt you have ever experienced. This is a place where people don’t talk about Justice, because they don’t think it can ever come and that they will only get hurt trying to bring it. If you want to talk about justice and peace, allow people to hold an opinion you may disagree with. If you were a true progressive, you would leave your comfortable couch and travel to places where there is a real need for justice, peace and fairness – where people live on less than $2 a day.


  11. Thanks for the civics lesson Stu. But re-reading thinkforyourself’s post, I don’t believe he/she said that Goodspeed “shut[s] out” opinion. He said that Goodspeed and others are close-minded. I shant defend him/her futher.

    Oh, and your official “true progressive” decoder ring is in the mail. The password is “heterosexist.”

  12. Hey everyone,

    I’ve decided to join the Republican party because I’m a progressive who believes that change can come from within! Southern strategy? Who cares? Divisive, dirty campaigning regarding LGBT rights issues? Hey! I can make a difference! You know, states rights rhetoric isn’t just a cover for states’ rights to discriminate against racial minorities! No way! It’s actually a meaningful attempt to preserve the rights of the individual! And since the Republican party has done so much to preserve the rights of the individual in this country (the right to bear arms, the right to life, etc.), I think you should just LAY OFF us progressives who decide that slow, incremental change from within can change powerful, rich institutions whose identity and existance derives from exploiting societal inequality and divisions!

    And I’d like to invite all those “progressive” students who joined Michigauma to “change it from within” such as Sam Woll, Brian Hull, and Neal Pancholi to join the KKK with me next week! If we all work together, we can change the world!

    – Disgruntled and disgusted non-anonymous grad student

  13. who wants a nice delicious burrito right now? i know i do.

    ah, just an attempt to break the tension a bit. i’ve found myself joining threads on this site after dan adams comments because he is usually the only rational individual to offer his 2c, and i appreciate it. he is probably the only fair person here.

    the rest of your comments were largely irrelevant or just plain dirty. what the hell does egypt have to do with gamua? and why do so many losers feel the need to rip on rob in such an ugly manner for posting on this topic? grow the fuck up, people. this is rob’s site, he can post whatever he wants. when this site was based in ann arbor, it was a tremendously helpful service to the community. those of you too young to remember that time should keep quiet.

    i don’t even agree with rob’s position, but i respect it. he’s done a lot of research to back up his claim. i’m just disgusted by the infantile behavior i see here.

    to my friends in the organization- i’m impressed by the fact that you bent over backwards to bring about change, and i applaud your actions. this was a “progressive” move if i’ve ever seen one.

    because of my loyalties to friends on both sides of this debate, i’m not going to going to elaborate on my personal position. i’m good friends with both rob and members of gamua, so it’s a dicey little predicament. i will say this, though:

    the commenters who have … disowned friends over this issue; spread your hate across the pages of the daily and this site; think this is even as serious as some of the other issues you can be devoting your time to … your shit is lame, and you are pathetic.

    pop yourself out of your priveleged bubble and start acting some something better than a pack of poo-flinging monkeys.

    -neal (not the one in gamua)

  14. To those attacking Rob- When you are not trolling around for Michigauma posts to put nasty comments on, Rob is posting about various planning, community, music, internet etc. issues almost entirely about DC. Gauma just happens to be one of the bizarrely large number of issues that Rob is interested in.

    Also- if undergrads are interested in giving back to campus their senior year, I suggest they join Mortar Board, a senior honor society that has an extensive application and selection process which is open to all students.

  15. I would just like to add how certain people leading the coke coalition and other organizations should be ashamed of themselves for giving up on Gamua changing. they are such hypocrites themselves it makes me ill. I hope they read this and care to comment as to why they aren’t elitists. Some of the leaders’ pretentious attitudes towards anyone who might dissagree with them embarrasses me when I realize that they are fellow “progressives”. Wait…doesn’t that mean that they believe in change too, even when it might go reeeeally slowly? A true progressive would vow to never give up.
    Well then fellow progressives, why did you give up on Gamua? Isn’t their a new membership/new opportunity each year to change the group?

    The daily today marks that despite the fact that you bashed some of your biggest supporters for having balls and perhaps some true intentions for joining, you still won with the name change and gamua becoming transparent.

    Don’t feel too good though, a lot of you were nothing but cowards who were too weak to really take on a challenge against a lot of odds.

    I feel sorry for you CH, AH

  16. oh and don’t even bother saying the same bull about the alumni controlling the group. You are basing your actions of not doing shit against the group on the ASSUMPTION that squawdipshit of ’42 or whatever still has a handle on the group. What? They haven’t changed before when pressured? Whoa. Wait. classes through 2000 consisted of idiots. alright. well maybe 2006 is different? Should we assume that the next president is going to suck as much as this one? just a thought.

  17. what a wonderful, irrelevant tangent to the situation at hand, stu. the point i made earlier was with regards to their elitist self-promotion on their self-titled websites. i don’t think i ever argued for crushing their opinions, but jenny and rob are likely closer to the intolerance of opposing opinion that you are so concerned with.

  18. Neal: Thanks.

    Angela Parker… wait, I mean “anonymous grad student”:

    I think we can get past the KKK/GOP comparisons, no? Judge each institution individually?

    Here we have a group that over the last few decades has moved substantially from its legacy as a racist organization. This fall, when Woll and others were outed, most in the progressive community justified continuing the fight against Gamua and its new members primarily due to the name itself. It can be inferred from this argument that these progressives would be placated if the name was changed.

    Now it appears that the name is being changed. So with no racist practices and no racist veneer, what is left of Gamua other than an honor society that does some volunteering? What’s left to be pissed about?

    Contrast that with the examples you cited: the GOP and the KKK. Gamua is different in the following respects:

    1) Three or four people can make a difference in Gamua in a way that they could not in the KKK and the GOP.
    2) Gamua made the ideological shift years ago. Woll et al didn’t need to do much beside change the name. KKK/GOP need to do a lot more than a name change.
    3) The GOP and KKK are fundamentally different organizations. One’s a political party. One is the former military wing of the Southern Democrats/hate group. Gamua is neither.

    Again, if Gamua’s mere existence divides a community, I’d argue that is a community problem. Intolerant of intolerance? Ok. But is it still ok when the predicate intolerance stops?

  19. Angela, there’s a clear difference between an institution that actively works to oppress certain people (which I, flaming liberal queer I am, believe the GOP does, and which the KKK does) and one whose offensive practices were secondary and unrelated to its values, goals and positions. If Michigamua were an organization founded on protecting Michigan’s white heritage against the intrusion of Native American and other minority cultures, that would be one thing. But it was founded on bringing together diverse leaders to serve the U. That is something that should be preserved.

  20. “The Society Formerly Known As Michigamua” is one I’ve actually heard in use around these parts…

  21. “I currently reside in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt is a totalitarian state.” -Stu Wagner

    tonight is the first night of passover…


    smash guama,
    ari p.

  22. yeah, what’s with young stuart’s preachiness?

    you’re hilarious as always, ari. love it.

    seriously, i think all youse guys need to meet in ann arbor over some cheap booze and big 10 burritos and talk this out in a civil manner. i’ll moderate. afterwards, there will be a gamua/activist mixer in the union, followed by a massive orgy.

    i love being flippant amongst so much misdirected angst!! have a wonderful day, everyone, and do be sure to let me know when you’ve identified reality :)

  23. First of all, if anyone who has the courage to tell me who they are wants to call me an elitist for having my own website, I’d be happy to hear it. By the way: you can get your own website! It’s not that difficult.

    Secondly, I invite any current or former Gamua member to tell me (not anonymously) what concrete positive things Michigamua has done for the University (other than Dance Marathon and building the union) in the last 25 years. Really, I’m just curious–because no current member has been able to articulate it to me before, and it’s not for lack of asking on my part.

    Hope Stu behaves himself in Egypt!

  24. finally, my suggestion for today’s deadline:

    “students who are exactly like their ‘progressive’ activist rivals”: should be doing a whole lot more

  25. Jenny:

    Courage? Huh?

    I’m sure you’re aware that Michigamua has a tradition of not taking credit for the work that they do. Their involvement in the creation of dance marathon was one of the few initiatives that has been made public.

    I have a question for you: Why is it important that they have a body of work on display?

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  28. Michigamua should just work with the Native American community to clear up things and honor and revere rather than denigrate the association with Native American traditions.

    As far as people’s hostility to what they regard as “elitism”, i.e. selectivity based on merit and demonstrated leadership, they should just unhitch their ignorance from the legitimate debate about cultural sensitivity and racist characterizations. Those are two separate issues.

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