While there is some question as to the exact year Friars was founded (1899 or 1901), the Friars Senior Society of the University of Pennsylvania was officially noted as a group in the yearbook of 1901. The fifteen charter members of the original group of Friars, inspired by the leadership of Daniel S. Keller, Jr. '01, was founded to protest cliques and strive against caddishness and snobbery, and to firmly establish uncompromising democracy in all class, college and university activities.
Originally an all-male organization, women were admitted in the spring of 1971. While classes numbered about 20 in the early decades, each new class of undergraduate Friars now numbers between 30 and 35. Those proposed for membership are leaders and outstanding members of their class in such roles as class officers, team captains, fraternity and sorority presidents, community and university service group officers, editors of student publications, presidents of dramatic groups, government leaders and the like.
During their senior year, undergraduate Friars, become a close knit group actively (and vocally) showing support for their fellow members and their respective organizations, creating and attending unique social events on and off campus, as well as providing community service and support for the University each semester. The camaderie created throughout their senior year as a Friar continues after graduation. As of 2012, the Friars Alumni Association have members living in 23 countries and 48 of the 50 states. Friars number over 1,935 strong, including members from several family generations and it is considered the most active organization of its kind on Penn's campus and afterwards. On campus and national Friar grad events are held each year and a biannual newsletter keeps members connected which is one of the reasons Friars maintains the strongest level of graduate and undergraduate participation of the senior societies at Penn. The Friars Graduate Board oversees the organization and is itself responsible for several Friar events throughout the year making it the most active group of its kind at Penn without question.
Friars is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
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