Frequently Asked Questions


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Who can be a Friar?

There’s no specific formula or stereotypical Friar. Each class of Friars is made up of diverse class leaders, and we strive to select our newest members from all facets of campus!

How do you get to be a Friar?

Friars are chosen in the well-known Tapping Service. Two-thirds of the group are nominated or “tapped” for membership in the spring of one’s junior year by current members. The other third is filled in the fall of one’s senior year through a similar process. Regardless of whether or not you join, receiving a tap is a recognition by your peers of your contributions to Penn, both your activities and your leadership on behalf of the community.

Can you be in Friars and in other senior societies at the same time?

Yes and No:  You can definitely be in both Friars and other cultural or academic societies. However, you cannot be a member of both Friars and Sphinx or Friars and Mortarboard.

How many members are in each Friar class?

In the spirit of our founder, Friars prides itself in being a diverse and inclusive body. As a result, class size has grown over the decades while still remaining a close-knit group. The first class of Friars had 15 members and for the next few decades Friar classes consisted of between 20-25 class leaders. Today, each Friar class has between 32 to 36 members.

What activities does a Friar class do in a typical senior year?

Activities vary from year to year, but Friars always support each other by going and cheering each other on at fellow Friar games, shows and events. They also perform community service as a group each semester and do a wide array of social activities from BYOs, to trips, to going to Penn events together on campus and participating in their own creative events like “game nights,” “cuddle nights” and “bucket list items.” Lunch with Dr. Gutmann each spring is always a highlight as are a variety of events with alumni Friars in the area throughout their year.

Why do Friars say they are the most active?

Friars typically have anywhere from two to five potential Friar events to go to each week during one’s junior and senior year as a Friar. Then as a Friar alum, there are at least a half dozen events held every year in Philly and a host of Friar fun get-togethers most summers across the country.

What's the deal with the hand sign?

Our hand sign is called the “Friar Flash.” Created in 1990 by the Abbot that year, it was a fun way to secretly acknowledge each other when you were walking down campus (and went along with a secret Friar handshake too). The sign is an “F” formed with your right hand placed/tapped over your heart (or you can shoot an air “Friar Flash” up overhead). Now, it has grown to a vehicle also used at games, shows and events to thank fellow Friars who are there to support you in your activity.

How old is Friars?

Multiple yearbooks and records show that Friars was founded in 1899 by Daniel S. Keller ’01 in his undergraduate dorm, making it the oldest senior society on campus.