It seems the most infamous student organization on campus will soon have a name you can freely use, instead of the awkward acronym TOFKAM – the organization formerly known as Michigamua. Although it isn’t a certainty, the elite senior society will likely soon change its name to Order of Angell. While the name is a tribute to former University President James Angell, who founded the secret society in 1902, the story of how Michigamua came to be TOFKAM and finally Order of Angell is one worth retelling. Featuring secret rituals, untold doings and members whose identities were long kept secret, it is a fantastic tale worthy of Harry Potter. In fact, it’s best told that way. Let’s start at the beginning:
There are many magical student organizations at the University, but one remains unmatched by all. Founded by Headmaster Angell more than a century ago, this is the infamous group formerly known as Michigamua. Angell’s intentions were pure, but over the century this group-that-must-not-be-named flirted with the dark arts, arrogantly employing Native American imagery and excluding women until recently. Claiming to serve the beloved University by the efforts of its distinguished membership, the group always acted under a cloak of invisibility, drawing ire from those who prefer their senior societies to maintain the open spirit of our public institution.
Events came to pass in recent years that appeared to undo the shroud of secrecy. In 2000, the Students of Color Coalition broke into Michigamua’s hideout in the Union tower and found evidence of arts the group claimed to have given up. The order was expelled from University grounds but the secrecy surrounding the identity of its members and that disrespectful, pseudo-Native American name remained.
Just last year, under mounting pressure from the University community, the group decided to release the names of its members, and what a list it was: leaders of various campus groups who apparently shared nothing but a love for the University (and perhaps just a dash of reductive vanity). It seemed that the group – now that we knew who was in it – might be ready to make a perceptible difference.
But there was still the pesky business of that notorious name, the last remnant of a dark past. Over a year after promising to find a new name, the group, in its typical patriarchal style, contacted the great-grandson of President Angell last week, seeking his blessing for using the hallowed name. And so, now we have it – the appropriately pompous, expectedly folkloric Order of Angell.
If that is the name, we must say we’re disappointed. If the Angell name is vital, why not present it with authority with Angell’s Army or Angell’s Aurors? Other possible names that were leaked, like Ring of Fire and the Blue Flame, have a nice ring to them, too – though we can’t say the recurring fire theme isn’t just a little worrying.
Meanwhile, the group, which has always scorned transparency, is also annoyed by campus quills. Member Matt McLaughlin recently expressed his chagrin at the Daily’s decision to cover the society “every step of the way.” The group has never been a fan of having to tell people about what it does – selfless humility, we’re sure. Of course, it does leave the door open for us muggles to question whether it does anything at all.
We’re thrilled that the society plans to announce its “vision” of “campus involvement” but perhaps it could also release the names of all of members, including honorary members. Failure to do all of that would just further the belief that the group will never allow sunshine in to disinfect its darkest corners, and there’s just no place on campus for an organization like that.