Traditions Stem from Secret Club
Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012
The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman or the Hard News Café or both for inclusion in Utah State Today.
Traditions Stem from Secret Club
The Beno Club, responsible for many Aggie traditions, has a long and history. There are two stories about its origin.
According to the University History Encyclopedia, In 1914 seniors from West High in Salt Lake City tried to form an organization at their school, but were told by the principal that there would “be no” clubs. Upon coming to Utah State, the students decided to start the club anew. Carl “Stubby” Peterson, one of the first club members, suggested using the phrase “be no” as the name for the club and it stuck.
The second story states that in 1916, a group of pranksters associated with clubs on campus greased the train tracks coming from 500 North to College Hill, today Old Main Hill. An irate President Widtsoe told the college that there would “be no more clubs” allowed. However, the students met in secret and later that year, the Beno Club was organized.
Christian Orr, a senior majoring in landscape architecture, said that the Beno Club best represents what it means to be an Aggie.
“I think the general attitude in how the club was created is hilarious,” he said. “Students saw a need or a way that the university could go and addressed those needs. They went for it. We haven’t moved away from that.”
In 1917 the Beno’s erected their headstone, the Block A, west of the Mechanic Arts Building. At the dedication ceremony, Widtsoe gave a speech.
“He obviously had a great sense of humor,” said Bob Parson, university archivist, while pointing to a picture of Widtsoe addressing the crowd from atop the A.
In the late 1930s the A was moved to the east side of the Quad in front of the Library, according to the University History Encyclopedia. In the early 1960s it was put into storage when construction on the Merrill Library began. In 1967 students and alumni petitioned that the A be taken out of storage and put back on the Quad. It was placed in the northwest section of lawn in front of Old Main, where it sits today.
One of the Beno’s most memorable contribution[s] to Utah State is True Aggie Night.
“So much of our university traditions are game day related or whatever, but this is something fun that everyone remembers,” said Megan Allen, a graduate student in instructional technology and learning sciences, and former SAA True Aggie Night chair. “No one forgets their True Aggie experience.”
It is unclear when or how the Benos started the tradition of True Aggie. It was never mentioned in any yearbook or student manual until 1972, where it appeared in an alumni publication.
“Tradition demands that no girl is an official USU coed until she has been kissed on this monument,” the publication states.
The tradition to become a True Aggie involves two people sitting on the A, who must kiss under a full moon. One of those people must already be a True Aggie in order for someone else to become one. Two uninitiated students may become True Aggies if they kiss on True Aggie Night during Homecoming week.
“One reason why True Aggie Night is so cool is because students are passionate about the tradition,” Orr said. “We’re not doing it just for the sake of the history of it. We’re living it the way our generation wants to live it. That’s something that I think the Beno Club stood for.”
The Benos were also known for performing many acts of service on campus, a tradition that has become an integral part of being an Aggie and the basis of many clubs and programs at Utah State today. In 1926 they were invited to become part of the Intercollegiate Knights, or IK, and became the Be-No Chapter. The IK is a national organization that started at the University of Washington in 1922, according to their website, intercollegiateknights.com.
Formerly a university club named the Knights of the Hook, the fraternity focuses on giving service to the community as part of a successful and worthwhile life, according to their website.
After their induction into the IK, the Benos adopted a new acronym for their club: “Build Enthusiasm in the National Organization.”