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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Anonymous Twitter Account Vows To Unmask Secret Society Members

A black-clad person, equipped with a cellphone and a voice manipulator, took to Twitter on Feb. 8 to urge members of Georgetown University’s secret societies to reveal their identities. The unknown person claims to be a member of the anonymous group “The White Rose.”

The group has been targeting supposed members of the Society of the Stewards by revealing their identities and personal information on its public Twitter account. Over the past two weeks, the group has posted a number of masked, voice-modulated videos, as well as released a portion of a tax return document from an organization called the Stewards Charitable Trust. The Hoya was unable to independently verify the claims made by The White Rose.

SHEEL PATEL/THE HOYA | The White Rose wants to push legislation to regulate secret societies on Georgetown’s campus. If the measure fails, the group plans to seek a referendum to achieve the same goal in April.

The Society of the Stewards is a long-standing, all-male Georgetown secret society. While few details are known to the general public, the group is believed to have a large graduate network and a six-figure endowment. 

The White Rose seeks to hold powerful groups on campus, like the Stewards, accountable, according to The White Rose.

“Primarily, the White Rose exists to raise awareness of some of the more nefarious aspects of secret society culture at Georgetown,” The White Rose wrote in a statement to The Hoya through Twitter. “We asked for further transparency from an organization with hidden membership and a secret agenda attempting to wield influence in all corners of Georgetown life. When the Stewards failed to compromise we decided to continue releasing names again to further raise awareness among the Georgetown community.” 

The White Rose’s claims about the Stewards’ membership and activities have no factual grounding, according to Adam Carter, a spokesperson for The Steward Society.

“I have looked at the White Rose Twitter account and it is full of misinformation and false rumors, and mockery rather than satire,” the spokesperson wrote in a Feb. 21 email to The Hoya. “It is a jambalaya of old paranoia and distorted stories at the end of a game of Chinese Whispers. Mostly it is just a regurgitation of untrue conspiracy nonsense aiming at the gullible.” 

The White Roses’ tweets break Washington, D.C. law and university standards, according to the spokesperson. 

“At a much more serious level, the Twitter account bears a malicious and, I believe, a sufficiently criminal intent,” the spokesperson wrote. “The account and its makers are, in my view, in violation of DC criminal law concerning cyberstalking and harassment, and so I am preparing to file charges with the University’s protective services and the DC Metro Police.”

On Thursday, a chalk drawing of a rose, as well as the message “We are coming for you” was also left in Red Square. 

D.C. statute defines stalking as purposefully engaging in conduct with the intent to cause a specific individual to fear for their safety or the safety of another person, feel seriously frightened, alarmed or disturbed, or suffer emotional distress. The perpetrator must know or should have known that their behavior could reasonably cause such harm, according to the Code of the District of Columbia. 

Harassment and bullying is defined as an act that may place an individual in reasonable fear of physical harm, cause a substantial detrimental effect on an individual’s physical or mental health, or one which otherwise creates an intimidating or hostile environment that interferes with an individual’s work or academic pursuit, according to the Georgetown Code of Student Conduct.

Since The White Rose has broken Georgetown’s conduct standards, the university should take disciplinary action against the group, according to the spokesperson.

“I would hope that the University will also act, given the harassment and bullying of any students who are entitled under the contract made by accepting their tuition dollars, if not by common decency, to peace of mind and freedom from mockery, fear, and the impugnation of their character,” the spokesperson wrote. 

The university did not have a comment regarding the activity of The White Rose as of Feb. 19. 

On Feb. 4, two days before the Georgetown University Student Association Executive elections, The White Rose sent an email to members of the GUSA Senate and campus publications, claiming a GUSA Executive candidate and a senator are Stewards. The sender signed off on the email as “The White Rose,” but the email account was under the name “Ann Hutchinson,” an apparent reference to the Puritan reformer Anne Hutchinson.  

In subsequent tweets, The White Rose released the names of another GUSA senator and three other student leaders on campus as alleged Stewards. 

GUSA members have been connected to the Stewards in previous years. In 2013, a separate anonymous organization, known by its Facebook profile “StewardThroat Hoya,” released documents and photographs implicating that year’s GUSA presidential runner-up as a Steward. In 2014, four of the eight candidates running for GUSA Executive office were confirmed to be Stewards.

The White Rose has membership in the double digits and formed on campus in the spring of 2019, according to the anonymous member. One of the group’s main aims is to have the GUSA Senate pass legislation regulating the activity of secret societies on campus, according to the anonymous member. 

“Releasing names will not be enough because this action alone will not end the Stewards’ constant pursuit for power under the veil of secrecy. Therefore, we are pursuing action in GUSA to introduce an amendment to ban those with secret agendae from running for public office within their organization,” The White Rose wrote. “An alternative, and perhaps more realistic amendment, would involve forcing those in secret societies to declare their allegiances upon deciding to run for student government.” 

If these options fail, The White Rose will pursue a referendum to coincide with the April GUSA Senate elections to introduce a total ban on secret societies, according to the member.

GUSA does not currently intend to take up legislation on secret societies, according to Senator Daniella Sanchez (COL ’22).   

“Neither the White Rose nor the Stewards have any real power or influence in GUSA at the moment. Not to mention, if the person behind the White Rose truly wanted to improve the exclusive culture of our university, they would not hide behind a mask,” Sanchez wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Instead, they would reach out to those in GUSA with their true identity to work with us on real solutions rather than threatening us.”

While the intentions of the group may be positive, the method by which the group is pursuing its goals is questionable, according to GUSA Senator Leo Teixeira (COL ’21).

“In theory, the prospect of an unaccountable society seeking to covertly seek to influence and push an agenda is unacceptable, so one can understand why the White Rose is doing what they’re doing,” Texiera wrote in an email to The Hoya. “At the same time, however, since they have to maintain privacy for obvious reasons, its difficult to judge their legitimacy or credibility.”

The White Rose reached out to “The Hilltop Show,” a student-led online political comedy group, to organize an in-person interview Feb. 15, but subsequently canceled it, according to Alexandra Bowman (COL ’22), president of “The Hilltop Show.” (Full disclosure: Bowman formerly served as a staff writer and a cartoonist for The Hoya.)

“We then responded by offering to do a ‘live video interview’ with the White Rose,” Bowman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The White Rose responded, ‘This is something we can do.’ Some time later, they said that they had ‘chosen a representative and are willing to go live.’ Then, on Friday night at 12:48 a.m. before the day of the interview, the White Rose contacted us and said that, for private reasons, they wanted to cancel the interview.”

The White Rose will remain anonymous because of fears of possible retribution, according to the member. 

“Yes, retribution is a possibility. We know of examples where previous individuals who have attempted to expose their behavior have faced attack,” The White Rose wrote. “Furthermore, it is easier to conduct operations without facing a repeating barrage of questions from others. Despite this, we have considered going fully public before, because unlike others, we have nothing to hide.”

Hoya Staff Writer Jaime Moore-Carrillo contributed reporting.

This article has been updated Feb. 21 to include a response from the Stewards and Feb. 23 to include the spokesperson’s name.

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Comments (18)

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  • F

    Fellow RegianFeb 26, 2020 at 12:07 pm

    Hello StewardHunter, you are a man of great intuition to match your obsessive behavior. And ironically, you are a Chime. Let’s all give that one some thought.

    Of course, the line between intuition and paranoia is just a matter of tweaking the meds. Three observations: the news article above does not have an anonymous quote from the Stewards, it does have a comment from a guy named Adam, and threats of a libel suit are nowhere mentioned except by you. The other thing I notice is that Mr. Carter does not seem bothered by revealing of identities. He is bothered by the calumnies and the online felonies being committed. Finally, I am not sure what bad press you are talking about. It seems to me that the Stewards are only ever written about in relation to GUSA crazies, and usually they come under abuse by folks that, from 30,000 feet, appear to be mental-health challenged. Reading your letter, you would think that Stewards are doing something crazy. But they do not appear to be drinking, doping or leaving the faith of their fathers to convert to a cult-like sect. Also, you really need to be more sensitive to the mental health issues to real people that spreading lies causes them. And you should not diminish the criminality of cyberstalking. Bullying might have been tolerated when you were a student only because everyone wants to get along and for no one to be upset, but when you are an alumnus, you have an employer and a local FBI office that may not be so understanding.

    • W

      William Emery (COL'19)Mar 3, 2020 at 11:28 pm

      There’s a lot going on here, in both the comments (did you post this one by mistake? It’s a little over the line). I honestly appreciate that you’ve said all this stuff out loud because, while deeply inappropriate, it gives me the chance to talk about and reckon with some things that I couldn’t find a good way to when I was on the Hilltop.

      Let’s start with the factual issues.

      Yes, I grew up in a town called Granville, specifically the one in Ohio. I’m not sure what your motive is with bringing that up, so I’m just going to leave it there.

      I’m not Steward Hunter. The day I saw the account last May, I sought out a member (three, actually, which was excessive in hindsight) of your organization to apologize for any role I played in encouraging that sort of behavior and emphasized that it wasn’t me.

      I am not, and will never be a Chime. In fact, I hold the ignoble distinction of being one of the few neophytes to actually be booted out of the process by a unanimous vote of the actives.

      Now to the insinuations about my mental health. It’s no secret that a lot of my work as a “GUSA crazy” centered on accessibility. I’m proud of what I helped build, and I’m thrilled at the progress that has been made in the three or four years since my departure from the advocacy space. This was, of course, when I first interacted with the Stewards. To give credit where it is due, your organization saved Project Lighthouse, and I appreciate that.

      It’s less common knowledge (insofar as any of this is) that I was psychiatrically hospitalized my sophomore year at Georgetown, and that I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression. I’m not ashamed of it. My time in Five West (and, yes, the medication regimen that came with) gave me the chance to experience life without a constant storm in my head and to take stock of my life.

      I am ashamed, however, of the choices I made before seeking treatment and starting down the road to recovery. Yes, I drank too much. Yes, I bullied people. It doesn’t make it better, but I didn’t recognize the magnitude of my behavior. When I finally did, during my fall 2017 semester, I resigned from all of my positions (except in ABP and ResLiving). In stepping away, I hope I gave the communities some chance to heal.

      I’m assuming by “cult-like sect” you’re referring to my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Again, at the time of the hospitalization, I had lost everything. I thought I’d destroyed my relationship with my family, nuked my academics, and driven away my remaining friends, to name a few. For the first time in my life, with my soul stripped bare, I understood what really matters: my relationship with Christ. Since you seem to know a good deal about me, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to talk more about that, although this isn’t the place.

      So, anyway, the big question remains: “Well, Will, then why did you post on a random Hoya article?”

      Through my immature and antagonistic behavior, I ended up on the wrong side of the Stewards. And, here’s the thing. You guys can be pretty cruel. I wanted to speak out as you threatened some other immature, antagonistic students. Nobody did the same for me when I was in their position. As the just dessert for actually signing that inane comment, I came home from work today to find two comments making thinly-veiled allusions and snide comments about stuff I never thought would be treated with such disrespect. And, as you noted, some future employer or a local(?) FBI office might very well find this thread. So, here I am, trying to talk candidly about the worst years of my life.

      But, for the record, I have been forward with both my current employer and my future law school about the challenges I’ve faced and the mistakes I’ve made. I plan to do the same with future opportunities. Recovery is a lifelong process, there will be setbacks, and I strive to be honest in my dealings.

      Even though I’m pretty confused at the severity of your reply, I think — in the long run — it’s for the better. For years now, I’ve wondered if I just imagined the malevolence of the Stewards (or at least those who speak for it). Unfortunately, now I know that wasn’t the case.

    • W

      William EmeryMar 4, 2020 at 8:19 am

      After some sleep, I decided to check something.

      The name Adam Carter did not appear in the article at the time of my comment. I don’t think I need to editorialize on the implications of this in relation to your broader comments about my mental health, except that things really fell apart once I came to believe my reality wasn’t real.

  • C

    CarthusianHoyaFeb 25, 2020 at 1:11 am

    The White Rose and its members need to provide examples or sufficient suggestive evidence that the Stewards are impacting the community in any sort of subversive, calculated, agenda-driven way. To me, the Stewards instead sound like a secret fraternity of driven, successful leaders who are in positions of leadership on campus due to their own merit. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that they monopolize the community or push a collective agenda that is destructive to the institution’s values, the freedom/opportunity of non-members, and the overall student experience. The only seemingly concrete information that has been presented is the names of members. In the same was that underground fraternities and groups create their own rules and have their own practices, the Stewards should be able to operate in a manner of their liking unless it can be proved that their members are collectively impeding the student experience of others or are negatively contributing to the natural order of the institution that they intend to serve.

    Until then, let the group and other secret groups like it do their thing. My advice to the White Rose – start an initiative of your own. Start a process of induction of your own. Make it yours. Make it special. Must be a pretty boring group if its activity and existence is hinged on the activity of another group like it.

  • R

    Roger Hart IIIFeb 22, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    The Stewards speak of “misinformation and false rumors” by the White Rose… not a single example??? They’re panicking like crazy, ratting on each other and running for the hills. It’s so obvious at this point, just look at all the fake comments they’ve planted.

    These scoundrels still haven’t answered any of the tough questions surrounding their crooked schemes. Instead they’re trying (and failing miserably) to hide their embarrassment with a flimsy if not farcical threat of legal action. Anyone with a functioning brain can see this.

    It’s time for these wannabe elitist blowhards to be exposed, for their repeated cowardly attempts to covertly nobble the university, without the knowledge or consent of students. As well as continuing to expose more Stewards, The White Rose should reveal their own identities because everyone will be on their side.

  • B

    Black roseFeb 21, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    The irony here is of importance. An anonymous student group is demanding removing anonymity from another student group…need I say more…also I think you dramatically overestimate the impact of secret societies on Georgetown. Find something better to do

  • F

    Fellow RegianFeb 21, 2020 at 7:22 pm

    There is no doubt that this is illegal. In fact White Rose is committing a separate felony count each day their Twitter account exists, per each specific individual that it is naming, harassing and cyberstalking. That is a lot of felonies. All anyone of these people cyberstalked or doxed has to do is file a complaint with Metro Police and the Police can get the identities of White Rose with one phone call. It seems to me that someone is going to be playing grown-up very soon. (What they are doing is also a violation of the GU Student Code, so some academic careers just took a turn.) If anyone remembers, the Stewards did not hesitate to sue Georgetown some years ago and they won a big judgment. White Rose should consider renaming itself Red Cape.

  • J

    John MachirFeb 21, 2020 at 6:26 pm

    The person or persons who make up the White Rose a) ought to stop complaining about something they are doing themselves and b) need to get a life. They sound like future members of Antifa.

  • S

    SFS Hoya 23Feb 21, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    On the White rose Twitter it says Richard Cellini started the Stewards. Apparently he also is behind the Georgetown Memory Project to reconnect the descendants of the GU272.

    The Stewards sound pretty liberal to me.

  • T

    The InquisitorFeb 21, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    I’m looking at the Twitter feed now . . . why did the White Rose decide to publish the home address of one of the Stewards?

    Are they hoping someone will go to his house and physically threaten or hurt him? Couldn’t the White Rose get out the information with publishing private information like that? Lots of crazy people out there.

    Sounds like harassment and probably illegal.

  • N

    Neelesh P ManandharFeb 21, 2020 at 3:32 pm

    Wow! What a wonderful article, truly huge props to The Hoya for its dedicated Journalism. The Stewarts seem so shady to me, the fact that an All-Male secret society exists at Georgetown and are potentially influencing the University through their finances ahould scare everybody. I know that I would advocate for the removal of any GUSA senators that are in The Stewarts as I would not have voted for them had I known they were part of this group. While i get the criticism of The White Rose we have to remember that they exist in opposition to The Stewarts, if we disagree with their methods, we should seek to remove the stewarts so that all secret societies are removed… not to mention, the white rose refers to a WWII era student group who opposed Nazi rule in Germany, begging the question— what exactly ARE the Stewarts hiding?

  • T

    The InquisitorFeb 21, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    So if I understand this correctly the “White Rose”. . .

    1) Demands other groups release names but won’t release any of their own . . .

    2) Is dumb enough to actually think GUSA can force anyone to do anything . . .

    3) Claims it’s mission is to “raise awareness of some of the more nefarious aspects of secret society culture at Georgetown” without providing any evidence of these so-called nefarious activities . . .

    4) Has outed immigrants, people of color, and the founder of the Tombs, which donates money to undergrads, provides jobs, and is an important part of student life . . .

    5) Chickens out of an interview at the last minute . . .

    6) Demands the Stewards “compromise,” but neglects to mention that “compromise” is to EXACTLY what the anonymous White Rose group won’t do themselves.

    And people think Georgetown students are smart? This is embarrassing. I feel sorry for this person.

  • A

    Anabel GetzFeb 21, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    It is beyond hypocritical to anonymously “unmask” someone. White Rose, show your face. Sincerely, non-anonymous commentator.

  • F

    Fellow RegianFeb 21, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    This is the most ridiculous piece of journalism at the Hoya yet. Let me see if I have this right: a secret set of self appointed elites have undertaken to dox, cyberstalk, harass, and bully another set of students who apparently spend their time planning on how to give an elite university charitable contributions when they are not filing their tax returns. And The Hoya thinks it’s OK to help them do it with a news story that keeps the malefactors anonymous. I am guessing White Rose is a kid who has lost a few elections and blames everyone but his loser self. What am I missing?

    • W

      William Emery (COL'19)Feb 22, 2020 at 5:34 pm

      Hello Manny,

      I hope the new year finds you well.

      We have never formally met, but I’m a recent Georgetown graduate. Having been vocally anti-Stewards during my (mercifully brief) time in GUSA and also being generally concerned with the ever-diminishing value of my Georgetown degree, I’d thought I’d throw my two cents into this mess.

      At the core, this situation is just weird. From the 30,000 foot view, you’re an accomplished, late middle-aged lawyer giving anonymous quotes to an undergraduate newspaper so that you can threaten some eighteen or nineteen year old with a libel lawsuit.

      And all that to intimidate a kid out of doxing the teenagers you’ve selected for your secret-but-not club? There is a healthy irony in threatening to sue the malefactors on the one hand and telling them to reveal their identities at the same time. Even what you’ve said in this article alone is more than enough to justify the White Rose’s anonymity. But that’s beside the point.

      I don’t think there’s much disagreement that the second Stewards have not had a positive impact on Georgetown’s reputation. Every time this sort of thing pops up, I start checking WaPo for the next scathing thinkpiece painting the Hilltop as a hot mess of vapid antics and Ivy envy. And, when that article drops, we’ll deserve it. The good works of your organization aren’t worth the bad press, and the Stewards would better serve our community if they met it on the level. Or, if you absolutely have to have a secret combination pushing for a very particular vision of Georgetown’s future, please be less farcical about it.

      • G

        Granville Lives!Feb 27, 2020 at 6:20 pm

        Hello StewardHunter,

        And you’re a Chime, let’s all thing about that. You must think that the over-representation of Chimes on the Alumni Board of Governors is deserved.

        Your intuition is good, but your reading skills are poor. The article above has no anonymous Steward quotes, identifies a Steward spokesman named Adam, and has no threat of libel suits. Also, Mr. Carter makes no claim on on anyone’s identity, and seems unconcerned about that of the cyberstalked Stewards or his own. You might have some sensitivity to the mental health issues involved for young people being stalked by people who may not be all there. And note, Will, bully tactics as a student are tolerated because everyone wants to get along and not upset even the fragile bully. But when you are an alum, sympathy for a crime might not be understood by your employer or the local FBI. Enjoy your new life.

  • J

    JackFeb 21, 2020 at 9:23 am

    So we all know this is the Stewards’ latest sad attempt to get people think they are actually important on campus

  • H

    HoyalumFeb 21, 2020 at 8:36 am

    All members of the White Rose should immediately come out of the shadow of secrecy and unveil themselves.