STOP AND READ THIS. If you are an incoming freshman to the University of Arizona, this column will be of the utmost importance for you. If you want to impress future prospective bosses and be self-serving at the same time, then it is an imperative that you join one of the many honoraria on campus. Not only will it look good on your resume, but you will also learn how not to break your arm patting yourself on the back or break your back kissing your own ass.
I am not speaking as an outsider, though. I have also been a member of the honorary system. I was a member of Chain Gang Junior Honorary in 1992-1993. I was one of the links. I will admit that I had a wonderful time while I was in Chain Gang, thoroughly enjoying the customs such as the Magic Bus. But, did it serve its philanthropic purpose? Somewhat. Did I deserve to be in the honorary? Probably not, but connections help.
As incoming freshmen, the choices of honoraria are unlimited. The two freshmen honoraria are Primus and Preludes. The application process takes place in late August-early September. It is a great way to meet people and a great way to get involved. But, will you be that involved and active? No, not really. You will do a modicum of philanthropic work and a few social events, getting to meet the other freshman honorary. But, the freshmen honoraria are a great stepping stone to pad one's list of activities and to grease the way for acceptance to the sophomore honoraria.
The two sophomore honoraria are Sophos and Spires. When you reach this plateau, the rivalry between the honoraria becomes fierce. Each one claims to be the better honorary, pointing to tradition and history. At one time, Sophos was the all male honorary and Spires (previously Spurs) was the all female honorary. Because chauvinism is still a reality, the formerly male honoraria claim to be the best, continuing to the Senior honoraria. Sophos and Spires are very similar to the freshmen honoraria, except there is more socializing done. The thought is that since the members have been on campus, they will know each other. Therefore, there will be more social aspects and less philanthropy. Also, because the honorary system is a continual process from freshman year and self feeding, the members of each honorary know each other and continue to select the same people for successive honoraria.
The most competitive of the honoraria are the junior honoraria. Although the tension has lifted in recent years, Chain Gang and Chimes have always had an underlying animosity towards each other. It probably stems from the fact that Chain Gang initiation involves certain disparaging remarks about Chimes. I am sure that the remarks are reciprocal, though. Like the sophomore honoraria, Chain Gang was the male honorary and Chimes was the female honorary. There is still some of the superior views that the all male honorary was the better honorary and still is. But, it does not really matter. The members concentrate on reaching the next plateau, making sure that they go to all activities to be there, but not because they may want to but because it will look good for their application into the senior honoraria.
By the time one has reached the junior honoraria, the wheels are set into motion to look forward to the senior honoraria. Due to this, there is a bit of back-stabbing among members of both groups. You see, everyone on campus wants to become a Bobcat, one of the thirteen best on campus. As long as I have been here, Bobcats has considered themselves to be the senior honorary and do not even really recognize Mortar Board. But, once the student has reached the pinnacle of Bobcat or Mortar Board, his or her sum is complete. Bobcats Senior Honorary is the most important honorary; without them there would be no Homecoming! Of course that is all they really do at the university, because as the thirteen best on campus, they are too good to do anything else. Well, they also put on Evening of Excellence with Mortar Board. Evening of Excellence is a huge self-congratulatory event. People have their names announced as they get into honoraria. It's one big ego-fest.
Besides the class honoraria, there are other honoraria on campus. But don't worry, they are as self serving as the rest of the honoraria. If your grades are not good enough to get into an honorary, make contacts. Because, just like the real world, the quality of work does not matter. It is who you know that matters.