Traditional Organizations

With nearly 200 student organizations, WPI’s student life is extremely diverse. There’s most likely a student organization that fits your interest; if not, it’s easy to start one. WPI has seen student groups come and go, but many have withstood the test of time. Since the late 1800s, a student organization has produced Peddler (yearbook) for the graduating class. Masque, the theater group, has been producing amazing performances for decades. For those who enjoy singing, WPI has a vast music department, including the men’s Glee Club and the women’s choir, Alden Voices.

Greek Life

Fraternities at WPI have served an integral role in the outstanding operation and reputation of the university. Since the first fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta, arrived at WPI in 1891, fraternities have been a tradition of brotherhood and campus unity. Presently there are 12 fraternities and three sororities. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) governs the fraternities; the Panhellenic Council governs the sororities. Each operates independently, but they work together for many events. The Greek system is seen as a very positive presence at WPI.

The Towers

Founded in 1909, the WPI Newspeak Association is the second-oldest recognized student organization on campus, excluding fraternities. The paper was first published on September 15, 1909, under the name Tech News. It has since continued to appear weekly on Tuesdays during the academic year. On February 27, 1973, the name of the publication was changed to Newspeak, in an effort to produce a more student-centered newspaper that was a voice for the campus. In July 2000, after much constructive commentary and debate between students, faculty, and the Newspeak Association staff, it was determined that the newspaper would return to its former name, Tech News. The first issue was published on August 26, 2000, beginning with Volume 65, Issue 1— the exact sequence where the original Tech News left off. At the start of the 2007-08 academic year, and after much deliberation, the paper was renamed The Towers, representing the past, present, and future of WPI as it travels beyond a "tech school."

Drinking Societies

Throughout time, people have sought comic relief, amusement, and social interaction. College students are no exception to this rule. In the late 1940s and early ’50s, groups known as drinking societies emerged on this campus. Only seniors who were members of their respective major’s honor societies were eligible for membership.

Three societies were popular during this time: the IHEE, the ACHERS, and the GENTS. The IHEE, which stood for "I Hate Electrical Engineering," began in 1949. Members wore straw hats, white shirts, and vests, and frequently visited the White Eagle. "Aspirant Chemical Engineers Fisibility Society," referred to as ACHERS, was established in 1950. Their dress was that of black derby, white shirt, string tie, and red suspenders. The mechanical engineers, known as the GENTS or "Gentleman Engineering Non Temperance Society," originated in 1953. They wore hats and short, wide red ties. These three, along with the BOK, "Barons of Kaven," provided opportunities for members to get together and socialize.

As times changed so did the role of these societies. In the 1960s, when the drinking age was lowered to 18, it was no longer a privilege to drink or an honor to be a member of these groups.


One of the oldest traditions on campus is The Skull, which originated in 1911 when a group of students felt that outstanding juniors should be honored for their dedication and contributions to the Institute. Induction into this senior honor society was intended to recognize individuals for their achievements and encourage them to strive to do their best for the school.

Each year, tapping took place at a campus-wide assembly. The members would walk around in their black hooded robes, the lights would dim, and then with a blow to the shoulder (a “tap”), individuals would be selected. As the school began to grow, the members of The Skull were no longer able to tap their new members in a central location. They began to select members while processing through the candidates’ classrooms. Now, the tapping location of each new member varies from year to year. For those chosen to carry on the mission of The Skull, it is both a great honor and a great responsibility.

Student Alumni Society (SAS)

The Student Alumni Society has been a part of the WPI community for many years. It was revitalized in 1982 under the leadership of a small group of students headed by Katherine Kruczek Vignaly ’84. SAS upholds the traditions, culture, and history of WPI. This goal is accomplished through programs, such as the Freshman/Sophomore Rivalry events, and educational programs that explore the university’s rich history, such as the Candle Walk. Join us as we Keep the Traditions Alive!

Social Committee (SocComm)

WPI’s Social Committee has delivered entertaining programs since its founding in 1968. One of the largest student organizations on campus, SocComm is composed of various committees, including films, major and special events, arts, coffeehouse, and pub. Each brings entertainment to the campus community throughout the year, supporting SocComm’s motto: Come Play with Us!

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Last modified: Dec 19, 2011, 10:16 EST
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