The Pundits

The Pundits
Pundits Seal, 1884
Yale University
TypeSenior secret society
HeadquartersNew Haven, Connecticut
United States

The Pundits are an undergraduate senior secret society at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. It is one of the oldest societies at Yale, often referred to as the "fourth of the big three." The Pundits were founded in 1884 as a society of "campus wits," and have a tradition of rebelling against Yale tradition, often through elaborate pranks.[1][2][3][4]

The society is known for hosting naked parties and socials, which the group moderates to make sure they remain safe spaces for the individuals attending. The nudity is described as an experiment in social interaction, and any sexual behavior is prohibited at the parties.[5][2][6] The society is also known for allegedly organizing naked runs through the various libraries of Yale.[7][8]

Founding and History[edit]

The founder of the Pundits, as an undergraduate at Yale, was the illustrious William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943). Phelps went on to become essentially the leading humanities scholar in the United States in his day, and an enormously admired professor at Yale. Phelps was the original prototype of the star professor, whose lectures were considered so witty, so brilliant, and entertaining, that attendance at his course became known as a not-to-be-missed feature of the Yale undergraduate experience.[9]

Pundits' full logo

The Pundits doubtless did not originally hold naked parties but contented themselves with assembling the wittiest and most brilliant members of the senior class for a weekly dinner and participating in a series of elaborate pranks and lampoons intended to deflate pomposity and pretension among the student body.[8][9]

The society has gained a reputation as "Yale's Merry Pranksters," and has been referred to as "the Antithesis of Skull of Bones."[10] There is a rumor that they possess a secret island located between mainland Canada and the United States, which they use as a hide-out when fleeing the publicity caused by their pranks.[citation needed]

A different version of the Pundits logo, from the Yale Manuscripts and Archives Library

The society accrued many names during its time, including "The United People's Front of La Pundita."[10] Speculation exists that the contemporary use of the term "pundit" may have its origins with the Pundits, which developed a reputation for including among its members the school's most incisive and humorous critics of contemporary society. The group's late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century focus on lampooning the social and political world was well-documented in the university's yearbook and the Yale Daily News, the entries of which are considered among the first use of the term "pundit" to refer to a critic of or expert on contemporary matters.[11][9]

The Pundits select new members among Yale's students every spring, outside of Yale University's normal senior "Tap Day" process. The society values diversity and respect in recruiting its new membership, selecting students who it believes embody its values of love, affection, humor, political commentary, nudity, absurdity, and body positivity.


Several members of the society have also gone on to become leading political pundits, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author and energy expert Daniel Yergin, and the 68th United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Other notable Yale Pundits include Alfred Whitney Griswold, Lewis H. Lapham and Joe Lieberman.[11][9]


  1. ^ "Fooling All The People All The Time | University Ventures Letters". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  2. ^ a b Aviv, Rachel (December 5, 2008). "Black Tie Optional". New York Times. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Yalies join forces to prank Gaddis' 'Cold War' lecture". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  4. ^ "5 Best Harvard-Yale Pranks | The Boola". 20 November 2015. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  5. ^ North, Anna. "The Collegiate Rites Of Naked Time, And The Adults Who Love It". Jezebel. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  6. ^ "Yale Strips Down". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  7. ^ "Fooling All The People All The Time | University Ventures Letters". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  8. ^ a b Hartwig, compiled by Daniel; [email protected], File format. "Guide to the Pundits, Yale University, Records". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  9. ^ a b c d Zincavage, David. "Never Yet Melted » Yale Pundits Make the News". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  10. ^ a b "Yale's Merry Pranksters". tribunedigital-thecourant. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  11. ^ a b "Political Pundits". Retrieved 2018-04-21.

External links[edit]