Joining the Society

The Jefferson Society selects new members (probationaries) at the start of each semester through an interview process.

Logistics

Interviews will be held Sunday, August 30th through Friday, September 4th over Zoom. To interview, fill out an interview card found here, and we will contact you with further details.

Monday, August 31:
6 PM Information Session over Zoom. Link can be found here.

Tuesday, September 1:
6 PM Information Session over Zoom. Link can be found here.

Thursday, September 3:
6 PM Information Session over Zoom. Link can be found here.

Friday, September 4:
All-day, virtual walk-in interviews. Link can be found here.

Interviews generally last 30-45 minutes and involve discussions on topics of your choosing. It is designed to be an intellectual conversation that will hopefully allow you to defend any arguments you choose to make, humorous or substantive.

The list of newly selected probationaries will be posted promptly at noon on Sunday, September 6th, outside of Jefferson Hall. Notification emails will be sent out in the afternoon to all interviewees.

Interview Content

There is no set of topics the Society likes to see, and we highly discourage interviewees from trying to pick topics that way. The Society looks for the ability to articulate and defend positions and intellectual curiosity. Current members have successfully discussed politics, economics, superheroes, sports, and literature, among many other topics, in their interviews. Interviewees need not have previous experience in debate, public speaking or creative writing.

Students from every school at the University are welcome, and the Hall has many graduate and professional students. The Society does not discriminate in its membership or membership policies based on age, citizenship, color, disability, gender, race, religion, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation or status as a disabled Veteran or Veteran of the Vietnam era. Students can interview only once per semester. Those who are not accepted as probationaries this semester are invited and encouraged to interview again in the future.

These are some of the characteristics of a passing interview:

  • Passion: the conversation is lively and generally enjoyable

  • Logical coherence: the arguments are internally consistent

  • Respectful and friendly attitude: the interviewee is generally a pleasant person

  • Responsiveness and engagement: the interviewee is willing to wrestle with different ideas

  • Awareness of the argument: the interview demonstrates understanding of the sphere of and assumptions underlying the conversation

  • Knowledge of subject: the interviewee demonstrates knowledge reasonably considered to be within one degree of chosen topic

  • Ability to integrate new information: the interviewee is able to incorporate new facts or assumptions into his/her argument

  • Effective speaking style: the interviewee is articulate and even captivating

Social Events

During the week of interviews, the Society holds several social events to allow interviewees to get to know the Society better. This typically includes a couple of information sessions, a meet and greet, and our traditional sippers event on Friday night before an open house meeting that we hold for all interviewees.

Probationary Membership

The probationary process involves attendance at Society events throughout the semester, a presentation before the Society. Probationaries are aided through the process by the Membership & Probationary Committees, and even probationaries with complicated or busy schedules (ex. varsity athletes, non-traditional students) have been successful. Most probationaries are invited to become regular members upon the completion of these requirements. For more information on the probationary process, feel free to contact the Probationary Chair, Mr. Ross Johnson.

More information about the Society can be found around the website, but no prior knowledge of the Society is expected of interviewees. If you have questions about the interview process or the Jefferson Society, feel free to contact the Membership Chair, Mr. Joshua Hassell.

Location of Jefferson Hall