When people wearing Seminole jackets beat the ritual drum on the Rock in front of the UC, everyone on campus knows that the Iron Arrow Honor Society, UM’s oldest tradition and highest honor, has accepted new members.
Creating tradition is the focus behind this esteemed organization, from its beginnings in 1926 by UM’s first president, Bowman Foster Ashe, just one month after the University opened.
“There are five criteria that need to be met in order to be accepted into Iron Arrow: scholarship, leadership, humility, character and love for alma mater,” Cie Chapel, chief of Iron Arrow, said.
According to Chapel, the fifth female chief in the entire history of the organization, only students can be officers, and there are many rituals that are kept secret amongst the tribe.
Induction into Iron Arrow is known as tapping, a ritual that involves marking the foreheads of tappees with orange, white and green stripes.
Every inductee into Iron Arrow has a different initiation story.
Joseph Fernandez, senior, was tapped in his Finance 431 class in the School of Business.
“The amazing part is that my class is on the fifth floor, so it’s sort of amazing to see everyone there, knowing they had to climb five stories to come get me,” he said. “Needless to say, I had no idea who they were getting in my class when they walked in. When they came and grabbed me, I was shocked and a bit confused. It still really hasn’t hit me.”
Stefanie Hernandez had a completely different story.
“I was told that I had an emergency meeting in Dr. Whitely’s office regarding all senate projects and legislation that have occurred within the last year – I figured it was important because I was called the night before and told that it was very important because President Shalala had asked for an emergency meeting to discuss Student Government.”
Hernandez said she woke up at 7 a.m. to make it to the Ashe Building by 9 a.m.
“As I was walking on the pathway from the rock to Ashe, rushing and clanking my heels with my hands full of important documents, I had to walk right by the Iron Arrow line, which was on its way to tap me,” Hernandez said. “I had no idea, but I remember feeling embarrassed that my heels were clanking in the middle of their procession.”
“I was shocked for most of the tapping,” Hernandez said. “I felt honored, humbled and proud.”
Iron Arrow was founded by Bowman Foster Ashe, UM’s first president in 1926, only a month after the University opened.
Iron Arrow was originally intended to be a male-only organization until 1985, when women finally become eligible for selection.
In an article published in the UM 75th anniversary edition of Miami Magazine, Roy Berger [’74], the editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane in 1973, recalls a 1973 editorial in the Hurricane that called for an end to the male-only discrimination policy that Iron Arrow had become identified with.
“I was editor-in-chief of The Miami Hurricane when that editorial ran in the fall of 1973,” Berger said. “I was later confidentially told that my candidacy, which was denied due to that editorial, was at the time the longest candidate eligibility debate in Iron Arrow history.”
Once an individual is inducted into Iron Arrow, he or she is a member for life.
For more information on Iron Arrow, visit www.miami.edu.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.