The Cadaver Society

An Inside look at the intricacies of Washington and Lee’s most notorious secret society

Hyatt Sbar

I knew what I was getting into when I decided to attend Washington and Lee university: pain at the hands of brilliant professors, Busch light, fraternity life, Aristocrat vodka, a cult-like secret society named after the dead, embalmed bodies that medical students use to operate on, term papers… Wait – did that second to last one say “cult-like secret society”? Yes, reader, it did.  

I have gleaned much about this supposed “secret society,” but I have absolutely no idea what is real and what is fake. However, in the spirit of investigative journalism, I will provide my ungrateful audience with some common knowledge about the Cadaver Society. Before I do that, please humor me by reading about my first experience with the Cadavers…

My dad attended this esteemed institution in the 1980s and peaked in life his sophomore year. As a result, my childhood was severely affected. I wasn’t read bedtime stories as a little boy. I instead relived his glory days every evening. “Did I ever tell you the one about when my fraternity buddy had one too many and streaked the colonnade, only to tear both ACLs? ” 

“Yes, dad.”

 “Oh, well what about the one when we had kitchen jams and tore everything off the walls and broke the windows in the Pike house?” 

“Yes, dad you told me that one last week.” 

“Maybe the one about the terminator parties where we drank for 48 straight hours?”

“Dad, I have heard it a million times.”

“Well, did I tell you about the Cadaver Society?” 


My father went on to tell me all about his experiences, and through his horrifically inaccurate story telling/ lies, I knew nothing other than the name and the mystery shrouding the group. I came to the conclusion long ago that my insatiable curiosity would probably be the death of me, so when I got my acceptance letter I decided I was going to try and uncover the secrets regardless of bodily harm. 

That brings us to the present day, and my desire to catch a Cadaver is at an all time high. I realize now that anyone reading this is probably so confused about what I am referring to, what the secrets are, and what is going on. Allow me to provide clarity. Here is what I know. 

  • The Cadaver Society is a secret society of only pre-med students who are obviously anonymous. 
  • The Cadaver Society is only made up of men. (I guess Title IX does not include secret societies…)
  • The Cadavers terrorize a certain part of campus every Thursday night from midnight to 4 a.m., historically entering through Leyburn and messing with Washington and Lee students. 
  • Cadavers are notorious for being drunk while terrorizing campus.
  • Cadaver’s calling card is a skull with a circle around it. (If you walk through Leyburn, you will see it.)
  • Cadavers wear all black and a skull mask in order to remain anonymous.
  • Dino Oikonomou is a suspected Cadaver.
  • Allegedly, if you unmask a cadaver they pay your tuition in full in exchange for a signed non-disclosure agreement stating you will not discuss the identity of the Cadaver. 
  • The Cadaver handshake is formed by [NON DISCLOSED INFORMATION] forming a [NON DISCLOSED INFORMATION]. 
  • When the football field was grass, the Cadavers would paint their logo on the endzone every Friday night before game day. Now that it is turf, there is a permanent symbol near the corner of the endzone. 
  • The Cadavers travel via tunnels that surface in Leyburn.
  • Cadavers receive a large endowment in order to pay for random pranks like buying multiple boxes of Domino’s pizza with horrific topping combinations, such as pineapple and mushrooms. (They should all be expelled for that.) 
  • If you attempt to unmask a Cadaver, they are at liberty to beat the ever-loving [EXPLICIT] out of you. 
  •  Ethan Mains was recruited to be a Cadaver, but due to GPA requirements was automatically dropped. 
  • Every four years, one student is given a full ride, regardless of cadavership. This is for the organization to express gratitude to the student body. 

Now that we are all on the same page, allow me to explain the average Thursday night of yours truly. I eat a hearty dinner of tater tots and 12-week-old coop sushi. I then discuss the game plan for that night’s hunting strategy with my fellow dorm rats, and soon arrive at Leyburn. On the night in question, I pretend to read a copy of the greatest student run newspaper in the nation, and attempt to look as innocent as possible so that a passing Cadaver might try and startle me. After an hour of baiting them to no avail, the strategy changes. We then investigate the grated tunnels, in which we all receive third-degree burns from the hot water pipes. We finish by roaming campus just hoping to have the opportunity to jump a group of masked pre-med students. Then we return home, defeated for the night – but not the year. 

No one can confirm if any of the points above regarding the Cadaver society are fact or myth. It could be another elaborate prank by the upperclassmen like the one where they tell freshman Washington & Lee gets easier as time passes. It could be multiple fraternities taking turns running around in masks, depleting the social fund to purchase disgusting pizza. Maybe if you fight a cadaver and unmask them, you get punched in the mouth for nothing and the “tuition being paid for” is nothing but a clever ploy to get crazy students to incite violence. Maybe if you unmask a Cadaver, you join them. I have no idea if anything previously stated is valid.

However, I do know that I study in Leyburn from the hours of midnight to 4 a.m. every Thursday, and if a cadaver is reading this… I am waiting.