The Yale Society Initiative, founded in 2015 to make the senior society experience more accessible, is introducing two new senior societies this year — The Society of Fox and Chariot and The Helios Society — to meet rising demand among juniors.
The initiative received over 160 applications for its existing five societies this year, a jump from 140 last year and a record number since its founding two years ago, when it created seven new societies. For this year’s tap season, the YSI formed a creation committee of current members to design the charter, names and membership of two new societies, which are the first additions to the initiative since it began.
“We screened for interest in new societies and formed each group with a set of diversity factors in mind,” said custodian of the YSI Aristides Hadjipanteli ’17. “People participate in society in order to meet new people that differ from themselves in more ways than one, so our creation committee kept that consideration in mind throughout the process.”
YSI member societies sort students almost entirely based on written applications, rather than recommendations and interviews.
Fish Stark ’17, a staff columnist for the News who helped place interested juniors into societies this year for the YSI, said a great deal of effort went into assuring that the applicants sorted into either of the new societies would fit well together.
Applicants were notified of their placement on Thursday night, and students participating in YSI-affiliated societies will participate in the traditional Tap Night this Thursday.
Hadjipanteli added that the YSI felt comfortable replicating the creation process pioneered in 2015. Although it would be difficult to predict whether the trend of increasing applicants will continue, Hadjipanteli said more societies would likely be created in case that trend continues.
Although the two new senior societies will focus on crafting deep connections among members as existing societies do, they will also offer a unique experience for founding members, Hadjipanteli said.
“Students are encouraged to forge their own traditions and even modify the groups to suit their preferences,” the custodian said. “There is something about that openness to creativity that certainly has interested and even attracted some of the applicants this year.”
Still, three juniors interviewed said the addition of two new societies to the YSI does not affect their reservations against joining any society.
Martin Lim ’18, a former copy editor for the News, said the concept of senior societies is — regardless of the YSI’s establishment of new groups — rooted in an artificial exclusivity that does not appeal to him.
Others already involved in the tap process said they appreciated the YSI’s effort to make societies more inclusive.
“New societies don’t change much for me because I was already tapped for some, so I didn’t feel like I was missing out,” Sarah Naco ’18 said. “Adding two new societies would be a good thing because more people would be able to have the opportunity to be in a senior society who want to.”
When the YSI was first announced, some students questioned whether its newly designed tap process would endure alongside traditional tap processes.
“Two new societies will absolutely benefit YSI,” Stark said. “It’s only in its second year and is gaining serious legitimacy as an alternative to the traditional tap process.”
Each senior society at Yale generally accepts around 15 people each year.