Octopus Society returns
February 25, 2011
On March 27, 1928, a group of eleven men met and formed the “Octopus Society.”
The club had not resurfaced as an active unit until this year, though there was an Octopus Club Alumni reunion in 2004, in which forty plus Octopi celebrated the event.
The society has seen many incarnations since its formation, but back in 1928 the group had two main goals, according to Monmouth College Historian Jeff Rankin, “to serve a men’s senior honor society (similar to Yale’s Elihu Club) and to operate as an alumni organization, in which ‘graduates will be able to exert a big influence in the further development of the college.’”
On the eve of commencement, underclassman chosen by seniors were to be installed to replace the outgoing class.
These members were chosen based on their contribution to the school; personality; and prospect for future achievement. Their identities were supposed to remain secret throughout the year until their identities were published in the Ravelings. After graduation they were given a gold watch charm with an octopus insignia and other secret emblems.
As to what the Octopus Society is now is left up to some speculation. In the early 40s, being a secret society lacking goals and ideas, the group turned to mischief.
The worst recorded incident involved seven members of the society in 1942 breaking a glass door to Wallace Hall. A watchman responded to the incident, a fight ensued, and the watchman drew a knife, injuring three members. The watchman was fired and then rehired at the behest of the Student Senate.
As a result of the incident, all secret societies were banned by the school, and the Society either disbanded or went even further underground.
In 1946, the club was resurrected. According to a document written by Rankin, selected members from the classes of 1944 through 1946 who had returned from military service were invited to join the organization.
Students from the new class were charged with finding the Bronze Turkey statue, which had been stolen and buried under the indoor track in the gymnasium. They found the Turkey, but the base remained buried. They then deposited the trophy on the front porch of the President’s house, with a note explaining what had happened.
Since then the Octopus Society has tried to revamp their image as a club that seeks to influence school spirit and decisions. A letter was sent in 1989 to the college public relations office to be included in the alumni magazine, but they were denied.
BY SARAH ZAUBI
Assistant News Editor