Sword and Sandals (www.swordandsandals.org) is a is a 501(c)3 organization founded in December of 1921 as a secret society. Based off of UC Berkeley's Order of the Golden Bear, it serves as a place where diverse faculty, staff, student and alumni leaders come together to debate questions of morals, politics, and philosophy and discuss the good of UC Davis. While the organization is not a secret society, it was for most of its history. Sword and Sandals holds meetings on campus to discuss topics relevant to the University. The organization does not takes action nor vote on issues, but rather serves as a ground for frank and open discussion. Members are encouraged to learn about topics, and to use the information they hear at meetings as they see fit in their everyday lives.
Very much like the Skull and Bones at Yale University, Sword and Sandals retains the privacy of membership, including meetings and discussions. Articles have been published in the UC Davis Magazine and The California Aggie (1993 and 2005), showcase the order and information for Sword and Sandals can be found on their website.
The organization's name comes from the Story of Theseus. Theseus's father left the young boy a sword and pair of sandals under a boulder. When he was big enough to move the rock and recover these items he would be able to claim his birthright to his father.
The council is made up of five student members and they meet between meetings to plan the agenda and events. Council officers are elected by the student membership. Positions include:
Worthy Ruler (President)
Chamberlain (Vice President)
Keeper of the Sword (Social director)
Committee of Nine is made of nine alumni members or associates and are chosen by associate members to act in an advisory capacity to the Council and to oversee the financial affair of Sword and Sandals. The committee meets quarterly. Positions include:
Liaison to Students
The Worthy Ruler is expected to attend the Committee meetings.
There are two classes of membership: student and associate. Student membership applies to all those who are enrolled as undergraduate and graduate students. Associate membership applies to alumni, faculty, and staff. Once an undergraduate or graduate is no longer registered they automatically become associate members.
Two members are required to nominate a person for membership. Nominations should be made by the second to last meeting prior to election. Elections for new members are held in the fall and winter quarters. Candidates for membership need a 2/3 favorable vote of those present at the meeting. Officer elections are held in the spring.
There are no dues for student members, although associates are asked to donate $5 a year. Because members are selected based upon their leadership abilities, many of the University elite are or once were members — e.g. Past Chancellors, high-ranking members of ASUCD, as well heads of other campus organizations.
Also seen is the Order's logo: A sword stuck into a stone that reads, in Greek, Arthurius. The logo is a reference to the legendary King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone story. In the story, a young boy is intrigued by a mystical sword stuck in stone, which it is foretold that only the next King of England will be able to remove. An older and wiser magician named Merlyn guides the young boy throughout, and the story ends with the boy removing the sword himself — confirming that he was the King all along.
In the Order of Sword and Sandals, faculty and alumni participation tremendous. There are perhaps parallels between the relationship Merlyn has with the young boy in T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone and the interactions older members of the Order of Sword and Sandals attempt to have with the younger members.
Sword and Sandals owns and operates a cabin in the Sierra Nevadas. The associates are in charge of paying the insurance, electricity, gas, taxes, and permits and raising funds to sustain the facility. The idea of a cabin for Sword and Sandals outings was promoted by Woody Wilson and Ira Smith, who had cabins along the American river. The cabin was built in the early 1930's and enlarged in the 1940's. Former UC President Robert Gordon Sproul was a regular attendee. Sproul was made an honorary member in 1921.
E. C. Voorhies (as in Voorhies Hall), S. B. Freeborn (as in Freeborn Hall), C. B. Hutchison (as in Hutchison Hall), I. F. Toomey (as in Toomey Field), S. H. Beckett, H. Sevier, E. H. Hughes, T. F. Tavernetti, C. E. Slatter, W. Feldmiller, D. G. Maclise, R. E. Lockhart, C. Titus, E. L. Wetmore, E. H. Barger, Tel Adams (student activities director), Robert Ball (executive secretary, California Crops), Bob Biggs (head football coach), Marjorie Dickinson (director of government and community relations), Bob Foster (football coach), Bob Franks (former assistant vice chancellor of student affairs), John Hardie (administrative coordinator of med. center relations), Charles Hess (professor, environmental horticulture), Charles Nash (former chairperson of Academic Senate), Robert C. Peral (professor emeritus, Food Science), Darrell Ralls (vice chancellor of facilities), Jim Sochor (golf coach, former athletic director), Orville Thompson (professor emeritus, applied behavioral sciences)
Jack Baker, P. Williams-Foote, Harold Kendall, H. Peterson, Ben Robinson, G. Scott, G. True, I. Boone, K. Schmidt, Don Eveleth, Baily Fairchild, Dan Haley, J. Mott, L. Philips, H. Sarrori, W. Siemering, W. W. Weeth, P. Goodwin, W. Beckman, H. Marshall, Deming G. McClise, Clark J. Burnham, Herbert E. Henderson, Frank P. Alexander, Frank A. Cleland, Herbert A. Spilman, Charles A. Reeves, George M. Bogart, R. Donald Walters, Richard B. Barlow, James Woodford, Clarence Waltz, Francis R. Wilson, Robert P. Reynolds, Bailey Fairchild, Don Eveleth, Lawrence Phillips, Leonard Krebiel, Harry Peterson, Haydn Sartori, John Mott, Waldo Weeth, George Garner, Gordon H. True (Jr), Harold Kendall, Dan Haley, L. W. Feldmiller, Ronald K. Allen, Rob Black, Timothy B. Hay, Robert Maulhardt Jr., David Mewin, Alan Nager, Frederick H. Noteware, Henry R. Obana, Charles M. Quarre, D. Williams Rains, Gerald A. Rominger, William Schemel, Rich D'Alessio (ASUCD Executive Council member), Erin Braddock (ASUCD Elections Committee chairperson, former ASUCD President), Stephanie Diebert (director of Campus Lobby), Jenny Fearing (director ASUCD Academic Affairs), Jack Gorman (director of National Lobby), Erika Gotsh (assistant business manager of ASUCD), Ashley Guppy (director of State Lobby), Tracey Hayes (ASUCD Elections Committee chairperson), Steve Johns (ASUCD President), Daniel Kurtzman (Managing Editor of The California Aggie), Seth Merewitz (ASUCD President), Melissa Miller-Henson (director of Human Corps), Darby Morrisroe (student regent-designate) , Wesley Namikawa (chairperson of AS Papers), Dana Shoffner (ASUCD President), Darris Sherman (assistant director of Campus Lobby), Chris Simas, Devin Whitney ASUCD Controller, Anise Warsame, Alex Lee, ASUCD Senator 2014-2015, Armando Figueroa, ASUCD President, SMART, Kalen Gallagher (ASUCD President, Student Focus, Sigma Phi Epsilon), Brian McInnis (Director of the ASUCD Office of External Affairs, Student Focus, Sigma Phi Epsilon), Paloma Perez (former ASUCD Vice President, Student Focus), Chris Goren (Student Focus, Senator), Lee Weissman, Kareem Salem (ASUCD President), Donald Cohen-Cutler (ASUCD Senator), Alberto Garcia - Aggie Pack, Behzad Farahbakhsh - ASUCD Senate Candidate, Chris Ryan (Sigma Phi Epsilon), Liz Johnson and Liz Tran - Presidents of the Cal Aggie Student Alumni Network, Larry Vanderhoef - UCD Chancellor, Virginia Hinshaw - UCD Provost, Matthew Hargrove - Director, UCD State Gov't Relations, Old Man Micek, ASUCD Senator, Katie Johnson - ASUCD, commissioner for Academic Affairs Commission, Cameron Menezes, ASUCD Controller, 2004-2005, Victor Duraj ,Beverly "Babs" Sandeen, Rich Engel, Eric Fox, ASUCD Senator, Nadeah Vali, ASUCD Senator, Angela Pourtabib, President of the Davis College Democrats, Anise Warsame
The above names were compiled primarily from the 1922, 1928, and 1929 editions of El Rodeo. These older editions featured a page on Sword and Sandals, listing them as an Honorary Fraternity or as the Order of Sword and Sandals. On the page was a list of active members, present faculty and honorary members (previously students).
- Winter 1995: Peter Nguyen was the first ASUCD President since at least 1990 to decline membership.
- Winter 2000: Matt Huerta (LEAD ticket) — He declined membership.
- Winter 2001: Will Klier and Elyna Céspedes (both on LEAD ticket) — Both declined membership.
- Winter 2002: Kari Mansager (LEAD ticket) — She declined membership.
- Circa 2003: Shemek Pawlik (former LEAD campaign manager (ceased involvement in disgust over Tiqula "the Black Caesar" Bledsoe's rampant corruption), former Unitrans student manager (dismissed for rampant corruption) — reportedly the other Unitrans student manager was an SS member as well, Nadia something? — Declined membership.
- Winter 2006: Angelina Malfitano, one of the 2005-2006 Student Assistants to the Chancellor was offered membership and declined.
- Fall 2005: James Schwab LEAD Campaign manager, although not offered membership, he was asked if he was interested in attending a meeting and declined as he started the Fuck Sword and Sandals facebook group.
On Saturday, January 29th, 2005 Sword and Sandals held their yearly Winter Banquet on campus in the MUII. While many of us left our cameras at home, we were lucky enough to have some Davis Wiki users come to photograph through the windows of this "secret event."
Before the meeting began
The following photographs and text is taken from a purely outsiders standpoint, as the photographers never entered the meeting.
While MU II is hardly secluded, this was, after all, a Saturday night — practically no one was on Campus and the likelihood of someone stumbling by the meeting while it was in progress was minimal. Of particular note is how well dressed everyone was. The student members were wearing suits or nice dress clothes. The ASUCD officials were dressed much better than they usually are for Senate meetings.
The bulk of the meeting seemed to consist of gathering around tables and talking. Kalen Gallagher (ASUCD President, Student Focus) was one of the first students to show up. There was a small podium set up, along with a laptop connected to a projector.
The meeting room
Perhaps the most mysterious of events unfolded in the Garrison Room, adjacent to MU II. Kalen Gallagher and a number of other unidentified individuals headed into the room after the meeting in the main room had began. First the lights appeared to be on, then they turned off and strange music was heard from within the room (note: not sure if the music was coming from the main room or this room in particular). Afterward the photo to the right was taken.
After leaving the Garrison Room, a number of items were left behind. Three brown bags, three packets of soil, and a number of candies and coins were left there. The bags looked to be originally taped together, and it is likely the items came from the bags.
It is possible that the reading that took place, the music, and the brown bags filled with strange items was some sort of ritual. After all, there were three people sitting in front of the bags in the first Garrison Room photograph (above right).
A room gone dark
Suddenly, after the meeting in the main room had been underway for a while, the lights went off. It was then noticed that candles were lit! The room stayed candle-lit for 10-15 minutes. The candles, along with the mystery of the Garrison Room, helped reinforce that while this organization has lost much of its secrecy in recent years, it is still filled with tradition and is alive to this very day.
After the lights came back on, their meeting proceeded as before — much chatting, and socializing. At this point one of our photographers was then asked by a member (who was on his cell phone outside at the time) "What are you taking pictures of?" This, along with the general lack of activity inside the meeting and the fact the photographers had prior commitments caused us to take off at this point.
Many influential people in Swords and Sandals are also members of a Facebook group called Students for a Better Davis, a group supporting Ruth Asmundson's re-election campaign. Since Saylor spoke with the group it can be assumed that Asmundson did as well, but given her family's history it may also be a good assumption to say that she, or at least her husband, is also a member.
The dirt ritual is questionable, as older members (50 to 60 years old) recently said they weren't aware of it. Younger members say the rituals are "constantly changing."
There's a great article on S&S in the December 6, 1926 issue of the Dingleberry, entitled "Political Org. Grabs Jobs and Runs Campus." The Aggie seemed to be of the opinion that S&S didn't lead to quality representation in the student government.
According to Bob Ball, "Everyone who had a building named on campus has been a member except one—Ed Roessler—which was an oversight." This is wrong, as easily demonstrated by King Hall. Wright Hall and Everson Hall are probably additional counterexamples to this claim because they were named before women were admitted to the order, although Wright was alive when women were admitted and could have conceivably joined. She would have been really old, though.
Former ASUCD President/Davis Mayor Bob Black was also a member. However, when he and two other students were taken out in the middle of the night and asked to undress, out in a barn near Dixon, they rebelled against the hazing and refused to participate. "No, this is stupid," he refused. They were enrolled as members anyway.
"SS is an insult to student officials who have been elected by the students to represent them. It is also an insult to hired and appointed student leaders and faculty who go through a rigorous hiring process to be able to work on behalf of the students. Instead of bringing ideas or starting dialogues with the elected and hired student leaders, SS instead selects certain students to have these important discussions." -James Schwab, 7/30/07, Schwab's Public Blog
"As an alumnus member of SS, I have to say that I understand why the natural response might be to distrust and reject something that looks like this on the outside, such fears are unnecessary. To characterize the meetings of SS as 'important discussions' is inaccurate. The meetings are an attempt to expand understanding of issues through hearing varied viewpoints from a number of individuals. It is an exercise of learning and discovery - not a process of discussion, negotiation, or decision. The group as a whole has no, and tries to gather no collective power or interest, they are united only by a desire to make UC Davis the best university it can be.
The reason for selectivity in my opinion is simple: people are invited who have proven their commitment to the university and whose opinions are deemed valuable to the order. People who have attained positions of service for reasons of personal power, or people who are deemed to be untrustworthy or overly combative are simply not invited. It is the right of the members of the order to seek out and accept members based on character and merit. The biggest problem is that a lot of very well qualified student leaders go unnoticed that indeed should be invited - but are not. - Tim Keller 3/9/08"
2009-04-22 23:48:27 Does anyone about know what this group's real affiliation with the university is? I have a curious idea .. —DavidPoole
""Years ago in the 1990 era the students overtook Freeborn Hall in protest of the Regents increase in student fees above legal limit. What is interesting is 1) Freeborn Hall is always booked...except for that weekend 2)All the students that were leaders of the protest were S&S members. 3)The reason Gov. Pete Wilson did not give more money to the University is that the president of the university had a higher pay than him, and the president's secretary also got paid more than the him. 4) I was arrested on the Quad for telling where the registry for S&S is located.""
2010-07-22 16:41:31 As a Legendary Hero of Davis, I am somewhat insulted that I have not been asked to join. —BarnabasTruman