List of Yale University student organizations

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There are a number of student organizations at Yale University.

The Yale Political Union, the oldest student political organization in the United States, is advised by alumni political leaders such as John Kerry and George Pataki. It was the largest student organization at Yale; several groups, including the Yale International Relations Association (YIRA), have laid claim to the title in recent years.

The university features a variety of student journals, magazines, and newspapers. The latter category includes the Yale Daily News, which was first published in 1878 and is the oldest daily college newspaper in the United States. Dwight Hall, an independent, non-profit community service organization, oversees more than 2,000 Yale undergraduates working on more than 60 community service initiatives in New Haven.

The campus also includes several fraternities and sororities. The campus features at least 18 a cappella groups, the most prominent of which is The Whiffenpoofs. A number of prominent secret societies, including Skull and Bones, are composed of Yale College students.

Fraternities and sororities[edit]

The fraternity system in American education was developed at Yale.[citation needed] In 1738, Yale students founded the first selective college organization, a debating society named Crotonia; two competitors sprang up soon after, Linonia (1753) and Brothers in Unity (1768).

In 1780, students created a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a secret academic society begun at the College of William and Mary four years earlier.

In 1832, Phi Beta Kappa's evolution from a secret academic society into a public one led students to set up the Society of Skull and Bones. Secret and senior societies proliferated, and with them, fraternities. Originally, most were part of an interrelated system of socially or academically elite junior, sophomore, and even freshman societies, which fed into the prestigious senior societies. Other types of fraternities, however, were also formed.

In 1932, Yale opened 10 residential colleges, which included elaborate facilities for living and dining. As they became centers of social life, the underclass fraternities began to wither. They became increasingly unpopular in the 1960s, due to the atmosphere of social equality and Yale's decision to require undergraduates to purchase full meal plans. Around 1973, the last two surviving fraternities—Delta Kappa Epsilon and The Fence Club (associated with Psi Upsilon) -- closed and sold their facilities to the University.

As the social and political atmosphere became more moderate and the Connecticut drinking age was changed from 18 to 21, old fraternities began to reopen and new ones were formed; however, these generally bore little resemblance to the old Yale fraternities, as most did not have elaborate houses or the atmosphere of social and campus elitism.[1] Yale’s first sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, was formed in 1985.

The following fraternities and sororities have chapters at Yale:



Non-National Fraternities:

  • the Fence Club (coed)

Cultural organizations[edit]

Service/outreach organizations[edit]

Political organizations[edit]

Dance groups[edit]

Musical groups[edit]

Student musical groups include five university-sponsored organizations composed primarily of undergraduates:

In addition, the student-run Davenport Pops Orchestra [23], Saybrook College Orchestra [24], Berkeley College Orchestra [25], Jonathan Edwards Chamber Philharmonic [26], and Bach Society [27] all provide free concerts of symphonic masterworks. Other groups include:

A cappella singing groups[edit]

Undergraduates also sing in at least 18 a cappella groups.

All men

All women

  • Whim 'n' Rhythm [38]. All women, seniors only, founded in 1981 to launch a tradition similar to the Whiffenpoofs'.
  • The New Blue of Yale [39] was established in 1969, when Yale College first admitted women undergraduates. Its members were the first women to step inside of Mory's.
  • Proof of the Pudding [40] is Yale's all female jazz and swing a cappella group. It was founded in 1975.
  • The Yale Women's Slavic Chorus [41], founded in 1969, sings Eastern European folk songs. It is also the only women-only organization officially endowed by Yale.
  • Something Extra [42] was founded in 1977.


  • Redhot & Blue [43], founded in 1977 as Yale's first co-educational a cappella group, is known for its intricate jazz-based arrangements.
  • Living Water [44], founded in 1979, is Yale's only Christian a cappella group.
  • Mixed Company of Yale [45], founded in 1981.
  • Out of the Blue [46], founded in 1987, is Yale's "only co-ed, pop-rock a cappella group."
  • Shades of Yale [47], founded in 1988 to sing the music of the African diaspora, including R&B and gospel.
  • Magevet [48], founded in 1993, is Yale's "first, best, and only Jewish a cappella singing group."
  • The Yale Gospel Choir [49], founded in 1973, "to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministry of song."
  • Pitches & Tones, founded in 2011.
  • Tangled Up in Blue [50] or TUIB, founded in 1986, is Yale's only undergraduate folk music singing group.

Theatrical organizations[edit]

  • The Yale Dramatic Association [51], founded in 1900, is the second-oldest college theatre company in the country; "The Dramat" has featured the work of such noted Yale graduates as Cole Porter, Thornton Wilder, and Stephen Vincent Benet. It typically produces seven productions a year, including two full-scale musicals in the University Theater. Smaller-scale productions are mounted on the stage of the Yale Repertory Theatre and the School Of Drama's black box theatre. Former Dramat members include (among others) Sam Waterston, Austin Pendleton, George Roy Hill, John Badham, and Cheryl Henson.
  • The Yale Drama Coalition [52] promotes the theater community and improves communication between the 100-plus student-directed and -produced plays each semester. These plays are generally funded by the CPA Funds of each residential college, which award up to $1,400 to mount art shows and theatrical productions by members of that college.
  • The Control Group. Founded in 2000, Yale's experimental theatre company puts on two to four productions a year, primarily in unconventional theater spaces.
  • Heritage Theatre Ensemble, founded in 1979 (HTE), and reformed in 2011 supports Black theater on campus and elsewhere in New Haven.
  • The Yale College Theatrical Combat Association, founded in 2010, organizes workshops and provides opportunities for student choreographers and actors.
  • Sacer Ludus, a small dramatic group formed in 2009.
  • Teatro de Yale supports Latino/Latin-American theatre on campus and elsewhere in New Haven.
  • The Yale Gilbert and Sullivan Society [53] produces two operettas per year.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Musical Theater Company, YUMTC, [54] produces musical theater.
  • The Yale College Original Shakespeare Company, founded in 2010, produces two productions a year: one cue-script show in keeping with original Elizabethan rehearsal practices and one fully staged production.

Comedic organizations[edit]

Humor publications (in order of founding)
Improvisational comedy troupes (in order of founding)
Sketch comedy groups (in order of founding)

Senior societies[edit]

History and structure[edit]

In the 19th century, the Yale social structure became dominated by a unique network of societies, many of them secret, open only to seniors. They are called "senior societies" collectively, but secret senior societies also carry the sobriquet "secret societies". Invitations to join were (and in many cases, are today) extended late in junior year on "tap day".

Secondary to the proliferation of senior societies, societies of underclassmen sprang up. Most of these were limited to members of a single class (junior, senior, freshman). The underclass societies entirely died out with the formation of the residential college system in the 1930s, but most of the senior societies still exist.

Commonly, senior societies have 15 members and, once initiation is finished, they are members for life. Some have imposing, nearly-windowless buildings on campus, known as "tombs" or "halls" [63].

The structure and rules of the societies vary extensively. Journalists have attempted to ferret out the goings-on inside the secret societies, especially concerning Skull and Bones, due to both the mystery of the society and the prominence of its members. The degree of their success is difficult to assess, as members are generally unwilling to speak about it and access to meetings (or even the inside of the tombs) is difficult to obtain. Thus, verification of facts is difficult.

The secret societies have regular weekly meetings and it is known that meals are served, either by eyewitness account or by the presence of food delivery trucks regularly seen at side doors. Skull and Bones apparently forbids alcohol, although others do not. Most reputable commentators state that meeting include both outright silliness and serious discussions.

Yale's senior societies differ significantly from the final clubs at Harvard and even more from Princeton's eating clubs. Harvard's final clubs are not limited to seniors; however, they are not known to be "secret", have a more pronounced social function, and traditionally place more emphasis on family connections. Harvard also maintains a large society for underclassmen, "Hasty Pudding", from which most final club members are recruited.[5] Princeton's eating clubs are more similar to non-residential fraternities.

Current societies[edit]

Other notable clubs[edit]

Private clubs at Yale exhibit a range of membership models: all-student, student-faculty, or student-faculty-alumni, and a gamut of topical interests or organizing missions. Some are almost as well known as famous secret societies and some share characteristics including selective membership, endowments, noteworthy buildings, characteristic traditions, or on-campus historical antecedents as 19th- or 20th-century fraternal organizations. Clubs located within the campus area are woven into the fabric of Yale life, even though most do not have any formal affiliation with the University. Several were cited in the Official Preppy Handbook.

  • The Yale Anti-Gravity Society is a fun loving group of people that practice juggling and related skills.
  • The Elizabethan Club is a literary discussion club, with a reciprocal relationship with the Signet Society at Harvard. Researchers may request access through Yale's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library to items in "The Lizzie's" private collection of Shakespeariana and other British historico-literary material. Reference: The Elizabethan Club of Yale University and Its Library, Stephen Parks; Introduction by Alan Bell, Yale University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-300-03669-8
  • Mory's is a dining club for alumni, faculty and student members. Its carved paneling, silver cups, Yale memorabilia and atmosphere make it an echt-Yale venue for the Whiffenpoofs and other singing groups' performances.
  • The Chai Society, founded in 1996, is a private dining and social club occupying a brownstone on the Yale campus, adjacent to several properties which it also owns, and into which it is gradually expanding. Founded on principles of Jewish leadership and communal identity at Yale and in the world at large, its membership is open to all students and faculty regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. In 2006, the trustees of the Chai Society, Inc., the 501c3 non-profit which supports the activities of the Yale student club, legally changed its name to Eliezer, Inc. [71]
  • The Fence Club was the historical name for the Psi Upsilon fraternity at Yale. In 1934, Psi Upsilon, by then a venerable junior fraternity, renounced its national affiliation and became the Fence Club, in honor of the Yale Fence. It was a very prestigious house at Yale and many of its members went on to become members of Skull and Bones, including George H. W. Bush. However, in the mid-1970s, the Fence Club went defunct when the University required a mandatory meal plan for all students. Its reputation led to its demise being noted in the Official Preppy Handbook in 1980. During the 1980s, the Fence Club was restarted as a coed organization, but collapsed again after only a few years. Then, from 2004–2007, the Psi Upsilon fraternity reestablished an all-male chapter on campus, with fewer than 25 members. In 2007, the chapter severed all ties to the Psi Upsilon fraternity after a dispute with the national organization, retaining only the name Psi U, and in 2008, Psi U admitted its first female "brothers"; in 2009, after threats of legal action from the national Psi Upsilon fraternity, Psi U reverted to Fence Club. In addition to other leading U.S. government figures, former CIA Director Porter Goss and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte were members. The former clubhouse at 220 York St., designed by James Gamble Rogers is used by the University as classrooms.[72] In 2009, Fence Club moved its clubhouse to 401 Crown St, and in 2010, moved again to a more permanent location, at 15 High St. After the second-semester tap, in January 2010, Fence Club was a co-ed organization with over 60 members, highlighting the changes that this iteration of the group has undergone over its short lifespan.
  • The Yale Society for the Exploration of Campus Secrets (or YSECS) is a club devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Yale's campus. The society is said to possess knowledge of the entirety of Yale's rooftops, tunnels, and hidden places. Unlike the senior societies, members are chosen through an application process. Their public motto is Omnia Arcana Illustrabuntur (OAI), or "all secret things will be revealed." They have described themselves as being the ones that remember Yale's forgotten past. All members are said to have a group-mandated mark somewhere on their bodies.
  • The Rockingham Club (1981–1986) was founded by British-born Yale undergrad Lord Nicholas Hervey as a social club for Yale student descendants of royalty or aristocracy, a requirement later modified to allow membership by offspring of the "super-wealthy." The club survived only five years and the clubhouse (privately purchased by a small group of members including Hervey and Salem Chalabi) was an off-campus clapboard building housing a full length portrait of Lord Hervey, Lord Hervey himself (he took six years to graduate), as well as a ballroom and chandelier and held parties whose invitations were in demand by a certain demographic of Yalies and their guests (predominantly homosexuals, bisexuals, arts majors, and those aspiring to attend formal balls and/or socialize with by-gone title-heirs and the exceptionally wealthy).
  • The Corsair Club, The Zodiac Club, The Kittens Club, and the Round Table. Dining clubs that appear to have existed at Yale in the 19th century. (See researcher's reference at
  • Yale Mountaineering Club

Student publications[edit]

Other organizations[edit]

  • The Dwight Hall Socially Responsible Investment Fund is the first undergraduate-run SRI fund in the United States.
  • Bulldog Productions is the only undergraduate film production company at Yale University and one of the few such in top-tier American liberal arts universities.
  • The Crotonia Literary Society is a workshopping and exhibition group, a literary organization without an emphasis on publication.
  • The Yale Anime Society is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of anime and manga.
  • The Yale College Student Investment Group [74] is the largest student-run investment group in the Ivy League schools.
  • The Yale Engineering Design Team, founded in 2003, helps students work on engineering projects and competitions; it runs the annual daylong Junk Yale Wars, in which students build something out of junk to some set of design specifications.
  • The Yale Entrepreneurial Society is a nonprofit that encourages entrepreneurship and business development in the New Haven area.
  • The Yale Event Management Association helps New Haven businesses run events and other marketing efforts, aimed particularly at Yale students.
  • The Yale Friends of Israel is a non-partisan umbrella organization for everything relating to Israel at Yale. The group works to further understanding of and support for Israel through cultural, political, and educational programming across the political spectrum.[7]
  • The Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association, founded in 2010, is Yale's largest engineering student organization.[citation needed]
  • The Yale Undergraduate Consulting Group [75] is a not-for-profit consulting and marketing organization.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Business Society publishes a semiannual magazine, Business Sphere Magazine, about international and domestic business.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Psychological Society (YUPS) [76] conducts experiments and promotes psychological science on campus. Their YUPS cube advertises recent psychology-related news and theories.
  • The Yale Undergraduate Screenwriters Guild promotes the artistic interests and endeavors of all Yale undergraduate writers of film, television, and other related media.
  • The Society for Healthcare Entrepreneurship and Management at Yale School of Medicine [77] helps students, residents and faculty of the Yale School of Medicine explore the application of business principles in healthcare.
  • YTV is the student-operated, closed-circuit cable channel that broadcasts 24 hours a day.
  • The Yale Biomedical Engineering Society


  1. ^ Yale's senior societies were "elite" but, in all fairness, depended less on family status than those at Princeton and Harvard. They were more inclusive of men from poor and undistinguished families who achieved prominence on campus in such areas as athletics, academics, and student organizations. See " Tombs and Taps: An inside look at Yale's Fraternities, Sororities and Societies",
  2. ^ Libertarian Party Campus Organizations
  3. ^ The Rev. James M. Howard, Yale Class of 1909, "An Authentic Account of the Founding of the Whiffenpoofs".
  4. ^ Scherer, Barrymore L. "The Yale Russian Chorus, Diplomats of Song." The Wall Street Journal 23 Oct. 2003 <>
  5. ^ That Yale's senior societies place value on family connections is indisputable, given the prevalence of sons of members and scions of famous families; however, it is well known that persons from less famous families with certain success in their campus career, such as the Editor of the Yale Daily News and the captain of the football team, are often elected.
  6. ^ The Yale Herald: "Tapping In" March 30, 2012
  7. ^