Friars Senior Society Legacy at Penn

PHILADELPHIA — It’s official: the spring 2012 Friars Senior Society inductees have arrived and are being welcomed by their new Friars family. It has been part of life at the University of Pennsylvania for 111 years.

Now, between the suspense of being tapped, attending Friarside coffee houses and making new friends, three of the newly initiated Friars, Joey Wallerstein, Sharree Walls and Ruthie Gold, say they are proud of the rich legacy they are joining as rising seniors.

Officially recognized as a campus group in 1901, the Friars Senior Honor Society was a male-only student organization until being opened to women in 1971. The group consists of campus leaders from student organizations to sports teams to performing-arts groups to Greek organizations.

The diverse membership attracted Wallerstein, a Philadelphian, to learn more about the senior society. As an anthropology major, president of the Penn a cappella group Counterparts and an executive board member for the Penn Performing Arts Council, he has been fully heavily involved in the performing arts community on campus.

“Friars was on my radar because I knew performing arts people that were inducted,” he said, but he soon recognized that performing arts students were only a fraction of the Friars community.

Similarly, Gold, a biological basis of behavior major and incoming fall director of the all-female musical sketch group Bloomers, knew that there was larger network at Penn than just the comfort zone of the performing-arts groups she was accustomed to. Since her freshman year, Gold, who is from Chappaqua, N.Y., has performed with Bloomers at the Friarside Coffee House events to raise money for Habitat for Humanity.

Gold’s personal experience of Friars’ diverse membership occurred at her initiation when a football lineman she did not know shared the fact that he had noted to admit her. It was then that Gold knew how influential the group was in giving her “access to a whole new vein on campus” that she normally would not interact with socially.

Along with his fellow spring 2012 Friars class members, Wallerstein appreciates the new groups of friends he has tapped into. He said that the weekly emails about campus events Friars are involved in truly helps him feel connected:  “Everyone immediately became close once the new class was initiated and social events were planned.”

Walls, an urban studies major, SPEC executive board secretary and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., agrees. Not only was Friars more intimate and accepting of new members, she said, but there was also “an instant connection” among the students upon initiation. Walls is from Chicago.

In fact, the connection to Friars Senior Society reaches far beyond initiation. Wallerstein, Gold and Walls all like belonging to a new network of people with different interests but with Friars as a common thread connecting them.