What Is the Maroon Key Society?

With a GPA cutoff and a required essay, the society speaks with senior University officials about some of the biggest issues facing campus.


Levi Hall

By Kati Langille

The Maroon Key Society, described on UChicago’s Orientation website as “the College’s honorary society and its principle [sic] student advisory group,” met for the first time this year on October 25 to choose their topics of conversation for this year. The group solicits applications every year and only admits those with GPAs of 3.5 or higher. An essay is also required.

Those admitted have the opportunity to work directly with senior administrators on some of the biggest issues facing the University.

The Maroon interviewed Amani Mryan, a fourth-year in the College who has been a member of the Maroon Key Society since her third year. “At the beginning of the year, we all propose different people that we want to speak to, different administrators who deal with issues that either pertain to us or pertain to our communities, and so it’s a way for people to just kind of give their perspective,” Mryan said.

Mryan also discussed the issues that led her to join the Maroon Key Society, including the shift to nine-week quarters and her interest in examining the relationship between the University and the South Side.

“A lot of my questions with different departments are about accountability and what the University has intended to do, what they’ve actually been able to do, what the goals are,” Mryan said. “It’s kind of bringing that voice back into their mind essentially to just say we are watching, we’re interested in what you’re doing, we’re interested in hearing updates.”

Mryan also mentioned that she hoped to address school spirit, safety, college advising, alumni career connections, and dining to improve the undergraduate experience this year.

“I’d like to hear more from dining specifically, just about the different accommodations that dining can provide. And I eat halal, so it would be interesting to know how we can improve the experience for both Jewish and Muslim students who are looking to have better dining experiences,” Mryan said.

While the Maroon Key Society hopes to discuss improvements to the on-campus experience this year, Mryan also talked with The Maroon about the community that the society provides for its members.

“I like that all of our members are incredibly respectful of one another. I mean, almost never do people interrupt each other,” Mryan said. “We snap often at meetings to encourage if someone else is saying something. We’ll ask follow-up questions if we agree with what a speaker is saying, and if we don’t necessarily agree with what another student has said, then it’s a very respectful kind of disagreement that comes from a point of logic. It’s not inflammatory.”

This year, one of the group’s main goals is to reflect on the changes returning members tried to implement last year. Mryan mentioned that while she believes the administration listens to the society, it can be difficult to know how much their conversations affect school policy.

“Honestly, it’s hard to tell after just one year. It is difficult to tell where the conversation ended up, which is why I think many of the returning members for MKS in the first meeting requested that the groups that we spoke to last year be brought back so we can ask them after our last conversation what happened,” Mryan said. “I can tell you it seems like they listen. I don’t know how tied their hands are in changing things. A conversation isn’t the end of it, I think, but it’s a good start.”