Skull and Bones, the CIA, Ivy League and Initiation Rituals – CSPAN

Skull and Bones’s membership developed a reputation in association with the “power elite”. Regarding the qualifications for membership, Lanny Davis wrote in the 1968 Yale yearbook: If the society had a good year, this is what the “ideal” group will consist of: a football captain; a Chairman of the Yale Daily News; a conspicuous radical; a Whiffenpoof; a swimming captain; a notorious drunk with a 94 average; a film-maker; a political columnist; a religious group leader; a Chairman of the Lit; a foreigner; a ladies’ man with two motorcycles; an ex-service man; a negro, if there are enough to go around; a guy nobody else in the group had heard of, ever … — Lanny Davis, quoted by Alexandra Robbins, “George W., Knight of Eulogia” Like other Yale senior societies, Skull and Bones membership was almost exclusively limited to white Protestant males for much of its history. While Yale itself had exclusionary policies directed at particular ethnic and religious groups, the senior societies were even more exclusionary.[19][20] While some Catholics were able to join such groups, Jews were more often not.[20] Some of these excluded groups eventually entered Skull and Bones by means of sports, through the society’s practice of tapping standout athletes. Star football players tapped for Skull and Bones included the first Jewish player (Al Hessberg, class of 1938) and African-American player (Levi Jackson, class of 1950, who turned down the invitation for the Berzelius Society).[19]