Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Owl Society (or the Owls), is a secret society at the University of Pennsylvania. The group's membership and organization are not publically known. They apparently target male freshman from elite or affluent international backgrounds for recruitment and reportedly wear suits on campus as a way to distinguish themselves. The Owl house is located southwest of the University of Pennsylvania campus at 40th and Pine, where they are said to hold private events while maintaining an invitation-only policy (a campus reputation for hedonism is not remarkable for male fraternities at US colleges).
While the society keeps its history and membership secret as a matter of course, it is widely believed that the current membership is in some way still related to former members of the Psi Upsilon (also known as The Castle) fraternity. These members were expelled from the fraternity for a retaliation against an incident involving physical violence and racial slurs said by a member of the Delta Psi (also known as Saint Anthony's or The Hall) to an African American Psi Upsilon member. A number of Psi Upsilon members kidnapped the apparent offender, then stripped, gagged, and bound him in the back of a car. The Delta Psi brother was taken to a remote park location, threatened, and left bound and gagged on a city sidewalk. As a result, several Psi Upsilon members were convicted of related crimes and the fraternity was disbanded by the University. The Psi Upsilon Fraternity has since recolonized, but the Owls have continued as a distinct and secretive association.
The organization is rumored to have ties with financial, political, and media institutions in New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and several foreign countries, including England, China, Colombia, Canada, and Brazil.
The "motor oil incident"
This traditionally media-shy group experienced a brief publicity flare-up in 2002, when five drunken students, three believed to be Owls and two believed to be prospective members, attacked a visiting Princeton debate team sleeping in the lounge of a dormitory known as the Quad. The incident culminating with one debater being doused in motor oil and threatened with a lit cigarette, though ironically motor oil is not flammable. A university investigation came to a secret judgment against the five. Separate criminal proceedings were settled against two, while charges against the remaining three were dropped.
The Owl Society has been more forthcoming, however, in acknowledging David Ferreira as its vice-president and philanthropy chair when he was distinguished with a Rhodes Scholarship in 2004.
Other Penn secret societies include Theos for men and Tabard for women.
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