This morning at dawn, many U.Va. students woke up early in order to see the infamous Purple Shadows perform their annual march on behalf of Founder’s Day. While it would be nice to simply say “Happy Birthday, Mr. Jefferson” and leave it at that, the Purple Shadows have instilled strong animosity among the University that should be addressed.
The Purple Shadows have stirred up controversy in multiple areas within its past that have caused numerous people to wish for the Honor Committee to put an end to the “clan.” The word clan is used to refer to one specific complaint: The purple hooded robes offensively resemble Ku Klux Klan attire. Initially it may seem ridiculous to draw this comparison, but many upset members of the U.Va. community reference back to the founding principles of the secret society. It is said that the Purple Shadows are composed of “rich, white male students” who originally stood against the admittance of female students and minorities and who wished to keep the strict dress code at the University. In this sense, some feel that the Ku Klux Klan similarity is completely relevant due to its racial and sexist beginning.
Another criterion that the society stands for is the upholding of the honor code’s single sanction rule. In 1982 the Purple Shadows broke into former Dean of Students Robert Canevari’s office and left a letter and a dagger in order to express their anger towards the proposal to cancel the University’s Easter celebration. Yet despite the society’s strong beliefs towards maintaining the honor code, when Dean Canevari brought up UJC charges against the society nothing resulted from the action since the members are unidentifiable.
Should the University or the Honor Committee allow this secret society to exist based on the principles it was founded upon and their actions during the 80’s? Or are the Purple Shadows a key part of the University of Virginia’s sacred traditions? No matter what happens in the future, the mystical and enchanting aspects of the secret societies have enthralled the U.Va. community for years and hopefully will continue for years to come.