Kai Society Burnings

TG is a 25 year old graduate student and cultural forensic anthropologist. She grew up in Maryland and currently resides in Tennessee. She was an active member at her university.

Context: Kai Society is a secret university society at Longwood University where they encourage university involvement and service. However, it is very exclusive and secretive; no one knows who is in Kai. TG was not a part of this organization and as far as she knows does not know anyone in it either.

Transcript (discussed over the phone):

Collector: What is the connection between the Burnings and senior students?

TG: To start off, the organization started around 1900 and recognize students and faculty that do great things at the university. Kai has burnings where they make a fire and stand around it wearing robes that conceal their identity. At the end of each spring semester, all of the senior members of the Kai have the option to reveal themselves and this is the only time you can do it. You either wait 4 years to reveal yourself or you never do. The society’s purpose and its cult-like characteristics does not make much sense but they are an inherently good group.

Thoughts/Analysis: What makes Kai different from other service and recognition groups outside of its cult-like approach is that they do not want to be identified. This is unlike typical organizations who even have social media accounts to promote themselves and make them seem more open. However, the way that there is a rite of passage ritual for the seniors that is not public is interesting. Senior pranks are public and light-hearted and the Kai burnings are serious and mysterious.