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Order and chaos
For decades, the University's secret society Mich-
igamua held its weekly meetings on the seventh floor
of the Michigan Union.
In Feb. 2000 University student Joe Reilly and
other representatives of the Students of Color Coalition opened
the door to their meeting grounds. What they saw shocked and
disgusted them, Reilly said in an interview yesterday.
The room was adorned like a Native American wigwam. Lin-
ing the walls were pictures of former Michigamua members
claspingtribal artifacts. Plaques displayed pictures of members
with nicknames such as "Great Scalper Yost," Reilly said.
Reilly and his cohorts occupied the tower for 37 days. In the
wake of their protest Michigamua was relocated. Gone was the
meeting space of the past 70 years.
Twelve years later you're tapped to join this organization.
The group's name is different now and it claims to have
moved away from its controversial past. But its proceedings are
still veiled in secrecy. This is evident from the tapping alone.
There is no application, no cover letter, no interview. Just the
tap. The tap, and a great feeling of pride.
a "peace pipe."
This is the hint of the racism that would impel Reilly and the
SCC to occupy Michigamua's meeting grounds in 2000.
Still, if you accept, you join a legacy that includes former
President Gerald Ford, Heisman winner Tom Harmon and hun-
dreds of other success stories.
If you decline, you recant a history that involves the imita-
tion of Native American culture in racist and insensitive prac-
tices, the exclusion of women members until 2000 and an air of
secrecy that has never been cleared.
The group's unofficial mission is to "fight like hell for Michi-
gan." But with a continued closed-door policy, what does the
group actually do?
Addressing and redressing
Michigamua changed its name to Order of Angell in 2006.
This change marked a deliberate distancing from a secretive
This past included the decades spent on the seventh floor of
pseudo-Indian tribe on this public University campus to pro-
mote their kind of elitist view of leadership."
Leaving the Union after 37 days, the protesters took the arti-
facts with them.
In the wake of the protest Vice President for Student Affairs
E. Royster Harper commissioned a three-person panel to decide
the fate of the tower space. The panel recommended abandon-
ing the tower. Today the space is vacant and sealed off to the
Michigamua changed its name to order of Angell. The new
namesake was wholly uncontroversial: a tribute to the iconic
University president who served from 1871 to 1909.
Now the group meets behind closed doors every Monday at
10 p.m. The location changes almost every week.
Despite the society's efforts to make reparations to its unsa-
vory history, Reilly still said he didn't think the organization
should have a place on campus.
"I don't think there's any way they could make themselves
acceptable or appropriate other than say, 'We're going to end
our organization,"' Reilly said.
organization. For Kulick, the secrecy of Order seems to con-
tradict the openness of his own group, which is all about
transparency. SOAP meets with focus groups. They talk to
Latino and African American students. Their works requires
accountability - something Kulick said Order's secrecy pre-
vents it from doing.
Out of about 5,700 rising seniors, roughly 25 members
become a part of the group.
Yet Order's members are not a representative sample of the
general student body. Up until the 1940s, only white men were
allowed. It wasn't until 2000 that women were admitted.
Men still outnumber women. Since 2009, the makeup of the
group has been 41.57 percent female and 58.43 percent male, a
Michigan Daily analysis found.
And despite Order's efforts to strike a balance among mem-
bership organizations, athletes still dominate. Between 2009
and 2012, an average of 36 percent of Order's members were
athletes, compared to the society's makeup of 13-percent
artists, 9-percent representatives of multiethnic/political
groups, 10-percent members of professional organizations
By Kaitlin Williams
Getting tapped is no easy feat. Out of 25,000 nameless and
faceless undergraduates at this school, you're one of 25.
Order of Angell, the organization formerly known as Mich-
igamua, wants you to join their senior society.
You're out with a friend later that day and can barely contain
your excitement. I was tapped, you tell her.
Your friendtellsyou Order is aracist and sexistgroup. Anoth-
er friend is happy for you but points out that the group has only
recently moved away from a past wrought with mistakes.
Curious about what you might be getting yourself into, you
take the Commuter North bus to the Bentley Historical Library
to pore over boxes of documents and photos preserving the his-
tory of the secret society.
You discover Michigamua was conceived by University Pres-
ident James B. Angell and a group of then-juniors called the Hot
Air Club. You discover the traditions of Michigamua in a box
that includes pictures and lists of Native American-inspired
nicknames like Grunting Moose Davock and Squaw Cheek Cur-
tis. New members used to be publicly initiated on the steps of
the Michigan Union during "Rope Day," when members and
prospects dressed in mock-Native American attire and painted
themselves red. You also find a picture of new members passing
But the Union meetings stopped when Reilly and other mem-
bers of the Students of Color Coalition occupied the seventh
floor of the Union. It was there that they discovered Native
American artifacts lying around - an explicit violation of an
agreement the group signed in 1989 banning such displays.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Reilly said the
SCC's occupation in Feb. 2000 was a long time coming.
"What we did was a continuation of students before us ...
who since the 1970s were trying to bring light to the fact that
Michigamua was appropriating Native American culture,"
Reilly said. "That created a hostile environment for Native
students on campus, to feel like your culture and your spir-
ituality was part of this hazing ritual. It was being appro-
priated by a group of non-native students who were very
Past Michigamua members made allegations that the arti-
facts were strategically placed in the meeting space by SCC
members. But Reilly said the claims are "ridiculous."
"Whoever's alleging that we planted those items is trying to
hide the fact that those things were there and that's part of the
history of Michigamua," he said. "They basically created this
Speaking to the current University community, Reilly said
the administration should take a stance on Order. In 2000,
Reilly said they remained neutral, making the issue about the
fair allocation of space for student groups rather than about the
misuse of Native American culture.
Reilly said the SCC's occupy movement was motivated by
influencing future generations.
"It wasn't about our own self-interest," he said. "It was about,
'how do we create a more inclusive and a more supportive and
a more truly diverse University with our time here, with our
privilege and position as students."'
Tapped, you're not it
LSA junior Alex Kulick, lead team member of Students Orga-
nizing Against Prisons, an organization committed to abolish-
ing the prison industrial complex, was tapped to join order a
few weeks ago.
Within 24 hours he decided not to accept.
He said while he respects the work Order has done, he
Kulick said he's uncomfortable with the secrecy of the,
and 32-percent members from service groups, the Daily anal- 'W
Kulick pointed to factors like these as a reason he doubts
Order's ability to represent the student body as a whole.
Kulick added that he lauds Order's move toward diversity but
said the group has been slow on the uptake.
"Order has been making some small, incremental changes
over the years, but those changes need to be sort of larger and
more reconciliatory," Kulick said.
SOAP has strong relationships with other groups - the Black
Student Union and the Native American Student Association
among them - that openly disagree with order's policies and
Last May, Order member and LSA senior Chatoris Jones was .A
asked to step down from his leadership positions in the Black
Student Union and Intellectual Minds Making a Difference
for accepting a tap from Order. Though Jones said he remains
friends with the BSU members, he is no longer permitted to rep-
resent the organization as he did previously.
In a May 2011 Daily article, BSU spokeswoman Samantha
Martin said Jones was asked to step down as treasurer of the
group because his actions violated BSU's constitution.