Leaked emails about a secret society at Georgetown University sent shockwaves through the campus in recent weeks, and many believe the revelations in them prevented at least one student ticket from winning the presidency of the Georgetown University Student Association.
First, some background for anyone outside of the 20057 zip code: Georgetown is the oldest Jesuit university in the country and doesn't have any Greek houses. Though secret societies are different, they're about as close as the university can get to them.
The most well-known group, the Society of Stewards, was originally set up a century ago as an all-male organization to make sure Georgetown didn't lose its Jesuit values. When the Georgetown Voice, a student publication, wrote about the Society of Stewards in 1988, it was the first significant confirmation of the group's existence, and prompted the group to announce that it would dissolve. It's unclear what exactly the group has done in the intervening years, but at some point another group was formed, known as the Second Stewards Society -- which is either a sequel or a splinter group. The Voice reports that in 2001 the Speaker of the Stewards, Adam Augustine Carter, published an article in The Georgetown Academy that explained the purpose of the group(s) was "to inspire service to our school, and aspire to the building of character in young men."
Now, the controversy. In February, internal emails -- leaked anonymously (by a source dubbed "Steward Throat") to the blog FreeGeorgetown and picked up by Vox Populi, the Georgetown student magazine's online presence -- revealed some of the inner workings of the Second Society of Stewards. The emails named student government presidential candidate Jack Appelbaum and GUSA Chief of Staff Jake Sticka both as active members.
It also confirmed the existence of a Third Society of Stewards, of which vice-presidential candidate Adam Ramadan was rumored to be a member. (Ramadan would confirm later only that he is a member of an undisclosed secret society.)
Many of the emails discussed such topics as what kind of cufflinks or blazer buttons to purchase, whether the correspondents should get matching Brooks Brothers ties (being the preppiest college in the country, after all), as well as mocking former law student Sandra Fluke and warnings not to reply to undergraduates' emails.
All of these emails came out prior to the start of voting for the student government elections. It sent the campus into a tizzy, The Hoya reports, and people began to withdraw their support for implicated candidates.
Maggie Cleary, Appelbaum's running mate, is bitter that the email leak, she believes, prevented her from taking office.
Connor Jones, editor of Vox Populi, revealed to the Washington Post Thursday that he could've had the scoop before the emails were posted online, but a fellow staffer told him, "The Stewards are a nonentity, just a bunch of bros who weren’t smart enough to get into Yale and join a real secret society."
Candidate Nate Tisa was eventually elected the first openly gay president of the GUSA -- the second at a major Jesuit university -- with Ramadan as his running mate.