Have you noticed any strange occurrences around campus? Posters advertising a mysterious name? Strange figures with cloaks and masks? Maybe you were at the Boar’s Head Dinner and watched as the Boar’s Head was stolen? These are all the doing of the Azariah Boody Society.
Before UR students dedicated a society in his name, the original Azariah Boody was a wealthy railway tycoon originally from Quebec, Canada who lived in Rochester during the mid-1800s. He was responsible for joining many of the existing New York railways into one cohesive system, and he became wealthy at a young age.
He will forever be remembered at UR for donating the land on which our original campus was built. Before it became University property, Boody used the land to graze his cows, fertilizing the grassy fields. According to legend, this is why dandelions are so prevalent on campus today.
While Boody is commemorated with mention in the UR song “The Dandelion Yellow” and a portrait hanging on the second floor of Rush Rhees, his role in University history was largely over until the infamous “Azariah Boody Society” emerged in 1999, the product of 13 students leaders.
This society was, from the beginning, a very secretive one and remains so today. In fact, they refused to meet in person for an interview, reveal their names, or even disclose how many members they have. They did, however, agree to anonymously answer several questions through their Facebook account.
“The goal of the Azariah Boody Society is to revitalize student involvement, university traditions, and impart knowledge about the history of the University of Rochester to the student body,” their response said. “We also try to embody the true spirit of Meliora and passion for this university, and our main goal is to impassion the rest of the student body with that same spirit. We do this by spreading knowledge, good spirit, and a little mischief across campus.”
As you have likely noticed, the society has made a comeback this year. According to the current members, this is due to a fear that the current student body is becoming increasingly out of touch with school spirit and campus traditions.
“Our first appearance this year was at convocation where we informed the administration and freshman class of our resurgence on campus,” they recounted in their message. They have made several masked appearances this year in their crusade to revitalize UR pride, including several during orientation week, one during Mel Weekend, and – perhaps most notably – their arrival at the Boar’s Head Dinner, where they stole the Boar’s Head after it was awarded to GlobeMed.
Aside from being a mysterious and masked presence at important UR events, the society has made use of Facebook to inform students of their presence. Posters advertising the society’s name have also recently been hung all around campus.
In early February, the society gave Professor Michael Rizzo the title of “Azariah’s Elite.” Professor Rizzo claims that he does not understand the meaning or significance of the title, and wonders whether the posters broadcasting his picture and honor are part of a practical joke.
The society explained that the Aziriah’s Elite status is awarded to professors who they believe have made a strong and lasting impact on the University community. “Professor Rizzo is the first of many professors we are going to honor each month,” the said in their message. “He is a respected professor and he’s not afraid to call out the administration. We respect his honesty.”
All of those to receive the Azariah’s Elite distinction will be thanked for their dedication to helping the University live up to its motto.
Though the society was not willing to give any specifics about their upcoming plans, they did state that the “campus should always be on the lookout for [their] next appearance. In particular, be ready for Azariah’s birthday, Monday April 21.”
Only time will tell what events will unfold, but for now, the society continues with their mission of promoting school spirit and pride, all in the name of the generous man whose cows, according to the song “were sleek and noble kine, they wandered o’er verdant fields where grew the dandelion. And when they drove the cows away to build a home for knowledge they took the color from the flow’r and gave it to the college.”
Everhart is a member of the class of 2016.