Yale Daily News

After an unknown person or group began contacting Yale juniors under the pretext of tapping them for Skull and Bones, the storied society’s class of 2018 issued a public announcement to the junior class earlier this month declaring that it would investigate and criminally prosecute whoever is responsible for the “dishonest, manipulative and despicable acts.”

Two male students confirmed that over spring break they received calls from a prankster, who, claiming to be a member of Skull and Bones, instructed them to hand their phones to someone nearby as part of a “challenge.” Then the anonymous caller asked the other person questions about the Yale student such as “How often does he have sex?” or “How big is his penis?” Cole Addonizio ’19, one of the students who received a phone call, said he suspected it was a prank from the beginning and ended the call after his brother, to whom he passed the phone as part of the “challenge,” was asked inappropriate, sexual questions.

Skull and Bones took a strong stand against the fake tap calls in their statement, which was released to juniors by the Junior Class Council. The society emphasized that the prank calls violate Connecticut state laws that make it a criminal offense to haze someone or impersonate an organization. Criminal impersonation constitutes a class A misdemeanor in Connecticut and is punishable by up to one year in prison. The society said it would investigate the incident and prosecute those responsible to the “fullest extent possible.”

“Senior societies provide a forum for exchanging ideas and fostering friendships. Recently, some have exploited the mysterious nature of our society, Skull and Bones, and our selection process to mislead and mistreat Yale students. These ‘pranks’ contradict our core values and, in some cases, violate Connecticut law,” the statement read. “To anyone who has been contacted by someone impersonating Skull and Bones: we assure you that we will never ask you to engage in humiliating, uncomfortable, or criminal acts.”

A source involved with Skull and Bones, who asked not to be named, said the anonymous caller was a man asking juniors to engage in “inappropriate, often sexual activities” with the implication that they could join the society if they complied. Skull and Bones officially began its tap process on April 12, according to the message sent to the junior class.

Addonizio recalled that he did not know how the Skull and Bones tap process worked, so even though he assumed the call was a prank he thought that staying on the phone could potentially be worth it.

“I then handed the phone off to my brother … my brother came back around eight or so minutes later with a really confused look on his face,” Addonizio recounted. “The person on the phone then told my brother to put the phone on speaker, and from now on, I should address my brother as ‘sir’ while completing the challenge … [my brother] told me ‘Yeah this is definitely a prank.’”

David Richards ’67 LAW ’72, author of “Skulls and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale’s Secret Societies” and a member of Skull and Bones, said it has become easier for people to spread false stories about tap processes since the News stopped extensively writing about the society system in the 1970s. He added that he is sure various students “preying on undergraduates’ hopes” have played similar pranks over the years.

President of the Junior Class Council Julia Tobin ’19 said that besides a request from Skull and Bones to send an email to juniors about the fake tap calls, she has not received any personal complaints from juniors about the alleged incidents. Tobin’s email also cautioned juniors against believing an email sent to students through a fake JCC address that said society taps had been cancelled.

The Pundits, a Yale society dedicated to pranks, confirmed that one of the juniors who rushed the society was behind the email prank about society tap being cancelled. But the Pundits representative said that the organization does not know who was behind the Skull and Bones impersonation.

Britton O’Daly | britton.odaly@yale.edu