Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The University Scheme and College Lodges

The University Scheme is a program developed a few years ago to give men that are attending a university a chance to join a Masonic Lodge even if they are not 21. These brothers pay a lower amount in dues and are around other young men interested in the Fraternity. This program is, in my mind, brilliant. Our Fraternity is just that, a fraternity. Yet, we offer something that the Greek system can’t, the unity of lifelong brotherhood.'

It is true that a man or woman can go about their lives meeting others from their Fraternity or Sorority; the problem is that once you graduate from college, that’s it. No more meetings, no more living together in a house, nothing but fond memories of your time in the Frat. Freemasonry offers more to its brothers.

Once you become a Freemason, you are one forever. You can travel to different Lodges, meeting new brothers and know that anywhere in the world, a brother is watching out for you and your family. Once a man gives the obligation, he makes a commitment to the Fraternity for the rest of his life. The values and storied past of our Craft gives us prestige over all other Fraternal organizations.

The University Scheme is a great system but it is not “new” in the sense that Freemasonry has never existed on campus. In fact, Freemasonry and Universities have gotten along together on both sides of the pond. There are many examples of Academic Lodges in the United States and Canada, including University Lodge #496 in Toronto, University of Washington Lodge #141 in Seattle, Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge A.F.&A.M., and Harvard Lodge A.F.&A.M. Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge was the first college Lodge, having been formed in 1920, while Harvard Lodge was the first Academic Lodge, having been formed in 1922.

Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge formalized what was originally “the Masons at MIT” club into a Lodge in 1919. Harvard Lodge AF & AM was formed, in part, from the efforts of Dean Roscoe Pound and Professor Kirsopp Lake as a way to join the myriad number of Masonic organizations at Harvard University into one Lodge. Harvard Lodge, as an academic Lodge, is very distinctive in its methods, including wearing academic robes during regular stated meetings. Both Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge and Harvard Lodge require that a University connection be established, whether it be staff, student or alumnus, to be eligible to receive the degrees.

College and Academic Lodges are, in my opinion, one of the best ways to create the strong connection between men and Freemasonry at a young age. It is true that a young man could join De Molay but it is the connections that we make in our years at a university, college, trade school, or our first job that last the longest. The UGLE has, in my opinion, committed itself to a laudable and important goal, using these intimate associations formed during these years as starting blocks for making Freemasonry not merely a Fraternity, but a lifestyle.

The current Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, AF & AM, Most Worshipful Brother Thomas Jackson, has stated his commitment in creating connections among brothers that were members of college fraternities and I agree with him fully. My advice for my own Grand Lodge and Grand Lodges around the globe would be to encourage the formation of College or Academic Lodges.

In Minnesota, we have one of the largest University systems in the country, so it would seem appropriate to me that a Lodge be formed in this state called the University of Minnesota Lodge. I am an alumnus of the University of Minnesota system (I went to University of Minnesota, Morris) and would love to see a Lodge, even one that meets only a few times a year, formed for the benefit of students, staff and alumnus of the U. But it needn’t stop there. If a brother is a student, staff, or alumus of one of the many private colleges or the MNSCU system, such as Hamline (my Law School Alma Mater) or Moorhead State, a Lodge could be formed to serve the students of those colleges and could continue to foster those connections made as students.

I believe one of the best ways to continue growing and strengthening the brotherly bonds of our Fraternity will be to create these Lodges based upon school affiliation. I hope that we see a continuance of the University Scheme started by the UGLE, the coming of fruition of Grand Master Jackson’s college fraternity goal and the continued prosperity of North America’s College and Academic Lodges. Connections are what makes our Fraternity what it is and using collegial affiliation is just one way to continue fostering these connections.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't understand...you called RCM Lodge "a college lodge" and The Harvard Lodge "an academic lodge," and said each was the first American lodge of each type respectively, clearly implying there is a definitive difference but you haven't defined what that difference is. As far as I know, the terms "academic lodge," "college lodge," and "university lodge" are used interchangeably and are essentially synonyms. I realize this is a very old post, but I'm hoping you can enlighten me.

By the way, the proper name is "THE Harvard Lodge," the definite article "the" is an official part of the name and the members are very sensitive about that (there was once a PHA lodge in Harvard, MA call "Harvard Lodge" which is why THL made their name slightly different).

A David Brown
Treasurer, Boston University Lodge AF & AM
Boston, MA

Nick Johnson said...

Let me look back at my sources to see if there was a difference. Also, thanks for letting me know about The Harvard Lodge nomenclature.

Nick

Nick Johnson said...

Okay, so I'm looking and I extended the nomenclatures used by each lodge to describe themselves. RCM calls itself a college lodge while THL calls itself an academic lodge. I assume now that there really is no difference.

Nick

Anonymous said...

That's what I had thought. Thanks for looking into it further (sorry I didn't acknowledge it sooner).

I agree that academic lodges are a fantastic way to grow the fraternity among younger generations of men. I'm proud to be part of one that was newly rechartered. If you want to see one at your Alma Mater, I would encourage you to be the force behind the change you want to see.

Bro. ADB
treasurerATbulodge.org

Nick Johnson said...

If only I could be in University.

Anonymous said...

I agree that academic lodges are a fantastic way to grow the fraternity among younger generations of men.