Soul Pole


It was this wooden stick–kind of like a paddle, kind of like a stick–whenever someone was out of line the prefect (a senior who had authority) would threaten to get the “Soul Pole” and beat them with it. This is no longer a tradition.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a student at the University of Southern California who graduated from the boarding school (Cate) from which this folk object originates. His knowledge of this phrase dates back between 3 and 11 years ago, though it is reasonable that it has existed for longer. He said that the use of the folk object had been discontinued after it was discovered by the schools faculty.

The object references social periods in which a room was occupied by seniors and underclassmen, in which the seniors had direct authority over their younger peers.


This is a folk tradition in which older students beat up younger students for disobedience. This was a sacred object used to conduct an act of hazing that could only occur at the school given the confinement into the school’s campus of the students and lack of adult supervision. The result of these circumstances was apparently the rise of a new hierarchy with a strict judicial system in the fashion of Lord of the Flies.