This April, the antics of Tap Night — the evening when secret societies select new members — will take place two days earlier than usual.
The festivities, which usually include bizarre rituals such as seniors in cloaks and costumes and juniors in blindfolds, were moved to accommodate Bulldog Days, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeffrey Brenzel said in an e-mail Wednesday. Though seven seniors interviewed said they support the move, three added that Yale’s two oldest societies made a unilateral decision to change the date instead of putting the issue to a vote in the Society Council, a group of representatives from each society that determines the rules of tap season.
The admissions event for admitted students usually occurs from a Monday to a Wednesday in late April, but had to be pushed to an earlier Wednesday through Friday schedule because of the timing of Passover and Easter this year. As a result, Tap Night, which usually occurs on the second Thursday in April, will be held on Tuesday, April 12.
“I am very grateful that the senior societies understood the challenge we faced, and very grateful they were willing to be flexible,” Brenzel said. ”It was truly an act of generosity for a large number of groups to collaborate with each other to help us out.”
Jonathan Dach ’08 LAW ’13, who organized this year’s meeting of the Society Council, said administrators requested that tap not occur when Yale was welcoming admitted students and their families to campus, so the council agreed to the move.
Seven seniors in both landed and unlanded societies — groups with and without “tombs,” or permanent meeting places — said the earlier tap night will not alter or harm their plans for inducting a new class, adding that they understand why administrators were concerned. Indeed, societies have already started selecting their new tap classes.
“Frankly, some of the things that go on that night are not always the most representative of what our community has to offer,” said one senior in a landed society, who would only speak on the condition of anonymity because senior societies are clandestine organizations.
Many juniors and seniors are also involved with the complicated logistics and myriad activities of Bulldog Days, showing off extracurricular organizations they lead or hosting admitted students. Brenzel said this would make an overlap between tap night and Bulldog Days difficult for those involved in the tap process to manage.
Though all the seniors interviewed said keeping Tap Night and Bulldog Days separate was a good idea, three said they wished the Society Council had reached the decision to reschedule in a more democratic way. One senior, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said the move represented an intrusion of the University in student life, adding that only the two oldest societies — Skull and Bones and Scroll and Key — signed off on the plan before it was finalized.
“Nobody was given a chance to vote,” he said. “It’s incredibly annoying; nobody wants to have that [tap week] time reduced.”
A senior in one of the oldest societies said he was not aware of any debate or controversy between societies surrounding the decision to move Tap Night.
The revelry may be slightly more tame this year than it has been in the past: the Committee on Hazing and Initiations, formed this fall after an incident involving Delta Kappa Epsilon pledges, will likely oversee the tap events, Dach said, and the Society Council would prefer “not to provide [the committee] with any basis for regulating our proceedings in the future.”
Historically, the Society Council agrees on the dates of pre-tap and tap night and the guidelines for notifying and inducting juniors. Traditionally, each society selects one member as a representative in the council to sign an advertisement in the News publicizing these agreements.