There was an air of secrecy in Jesse Hall on Friday.
A select group of students and faculty wearing hooded robes walked into a packed Jesse Auditorium in two winding lines. The group’s identities were completely hidden from spectators, and it was no accident — it was all part of the 86th annual Tap Day ceremony.
“Tap day is a tradition at the University of Missouri that has spanned more than three quarters of a century,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs said to those in attendance. “Its purpose is to publicly recognize students who have made significant contributions to the university both academically and through service to our community.”
Initiates were welcomed into MU’s six secret organizations, which include such MU alumni as Chancellor Brady Deaton and former MU basketball coach Norm Stewart. Although the event was moved from Francis Quadrangle to Jesse Auditorium due to weather, it went on without problems.
Stephanie Logan, instructor of American Sign Language courses, was among the instructors inducted into the Mystical Seven secret society. Logan said she wasn’t expecting the honor.
“I felt like it was the end of my life,” Logan said, laughing. “(The people who inducted me) were telling me about all of the work that I have done, because I am an honor ‘tapee’ – it was basically all my life history wrapped into a 30 minute meeting.”
Although she’s dedicated years of her life to MU, Logan said she’s not about to go complaining that the honor is overdue.
“I think anybody that’s part of the Mystical Seven doesn’t do it for any sort of recognition,” Logan said. “It’s just the cherry on top of what I already do.”
Senior Laurence Bowers, who has received numerous accolades for his performance on the MU basketball team, was welcomed into the ODK secret society on Friday. Bowers said the induction was rewarding because it helps define him as a well-rounded man, not just a basketball player.
It’s one of the biggest honors across campus, Bowers said.
But a year ago, Bowers said he didn’t even know what Tap Day was. He had to learn about it from a former MU basketball player, and even then there were parts of the tradition he didn’t understand.
After his own induction, he said he’s catching on quickly to all the ceremony’s highly sought-after secrets.
“Nah, it’s not too secretive,” Bowers said, smiling. “The only secretive thing about it is not telling people.”
MSA President Nick Droege, who also serves as president of Mortar Board secret society, delivered two speeches during the ceremony.
Droege said the ceremony helps students appreciate all of the great people on campus. Honorees don’t often seek recognition, and Tap Day is a great day to recognize their efforts.
The decades-old tradition, with its hooded robes and layer of secrecy, makes it a highly anticipated event every year on campus, Droege said.
There’s still a lot the general public doesn’t know about the selection process; much of Tap Day is kept under wraps.
“I was involved in that process (of choosing honorees for Mortar Board),” Droege said. “But that kind of remains for the organization for them to talk about.”