Skull and Bones, the secret society at Yale University, is warning of an impostor who has called some students purporting to recruit them and then asked them to complete a humiliating challenge, the AP reports. The campus society has figured prominently in books, films, and conspiracy theories. Its secrecy has fueled the public's curiosity about a group that counts former Secretary of State John Kerry and both Presidents Bush among its past members. The Yale police department has received three complaints of harassing phone calls from somebody claiming to be from Skull and Bones, according to a university rep, who said the cases remain open. Some students described an anonymous caller who instructed them to hand their phones to somebody nearby and then asked that person questions about the student's sex life.
Cole Addonizio, a Yale junior, said he suspected it was a prank soon after he received a call from somebody who said it was the start of the "tap" process. He played along and handed his phone to his brother, who was asked inappropriate questions. They hung up on the caller. Skull and Bones, which dates back to 1832, said in its note to students, sent out through the student government, that the prank caller was exploiting the society's "mysterious nature" and encouraged people who received such calls to report the incident to Yale police or their college dean. It was a rare public statement, according to David Alan Richards, author of Skulls and Keys: The Hidden History of Yale's Secret Societies. "While famously its mantra has been 'Never respond, never explain,' because it doesn't see itself as a public organization, in today's climate to have allowed that to happen could conceivably damage the society's reputation."