Student Secret Society AUV Vandalizes School Property Around Campus

Students may have seen the letters “AUV” emblazoned on buildings and trash receptacles around campus, the work of members of the secret society Auctoritas Unitas Veritas, an unknown group of current students that have adopted the name of one of Andover’s major secret societies of the early 1900s. Two weeks ago, AUV spraypainted its initials on the front of Morse Hall, trees in Flagstaff Court, pillars by Salem Street and recycling bins near Paresky Commons. A pillar in front of George Washington Hall was also tagged with “The Night has Eyes.” However, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, said that neither the administration nor OPP has confirmed that AUV graffitied this phrase on the pillar. No students have been caught for the vandalism. According to Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety, the graffiti by AUV has been the most destructive public display by a secret society in the past several years. The activity this year required cleanup by members of the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP). Conlon said that two OPP workers were taken off of their original assignments to remove the vandalism, which delayed other work tasks around campus. “[These students] were simply defacing the school property [with vandalism]. That is just not right to do,” said Conlon. OPP workers used a power hose, a small generator with an attached hose that produces a high velocity of water to clean up the graffiti. OPP typically uses the power hose to remove spray painted graffiti on campus buildings. Although the administration has not had significant problems with secret societies in past years, a new clause added to the 2011-2012 Blue Book explicitly prohibits secret societies on campus, as exclusivity and hazing are often associated with secret societies. In a list of necessary measures to ensure a respectful environment, the Blue Book writes, by “eschewing secret societies… we are showing respect for all members of the Andover community.” “[Secret societies] tend to tell some students they can be in, while other students can’t be in. Secret societies in communities like this on some levels look benevolent. They put out candy and do things that are nice for other students. It is when they start to wade into things like tagging buildings or leaving the dorm during the middle of the night when there becomes a problem,” said Murphy. Under the new Blue Book Rules, if the administration or faculty learns of society members or sees activities related to secret societies, the individuals involved will face disciplinary action. AUV’s activity sprung up last year, when the group made itself known through similarly public demonstrations. AUV members wrote with lipstick on the mirrors in Paresky Commons, requiring extensive cleanup by Commons workers. AUV has not been the only active secret society this year. At the beginning of the school year, Truth Unity Brotherhood (T.U.B.) left out a bathtub filled with Kudos bars in the Sanctuary during orientation activities. They also left a banner introducing themselves to new students and proclaiming that they were watching over campus. “When you start to have other societies being created there becomes a sense of competition between them. That makes us nervous that what they are going to do is try to bring attention to themselves. This feels like the latest step in having a secret society is to say, ‘pay attention to me, so I am going to put my name all over the place,’” said Murphy. The administration became particularly concerned with the secret societies when two years ago, T.U.B. placed envelopes with cigarettes around the library, a prank that catalyzed a Blue Book rule change, according to Murphy. Other than T.U.B.’s cigarette prank, there have been no serious vandalism issues conducted by secret societies over the last few years. In the past, Madame Sarah Abbot Society (M.S.A.S.) and T.U.B. have typically displayed their societies’ existences by taping the windows of numerous buildings across campus, rather than by tagging or paint. “[Those displays] didn’t destroy property, but it created a mess,” said Murphy. Two years ago, a secret society provided candy for the Phillips Academy community in the Cochran Chapel. “Although students enjoyed the candy in the chapel a few years ago, it got ground into the floor. Sometimes these displays are not intended to be destructive, but lead to someone else having to clean up their mess,” said Murphy. “The secret society idea at its core runs counter to most of the ideals of the school. They are eating away at the fabric of this place, which is an inclusive place not an exclusive place,” said Murphy.