As the spring semester starts, various societies on campus are hosting teas, semi-formal get-togethers that are designed to acquaint students with societies they might want to join. Currently, Wellesley College has four active societies: Agora, Zeta Epsilon (TZE), Zeta Alpha (ZA) and the Shakespeare Society (Shakes).
Tau Zeta Epsilon (TZE)
Tau Zeta Epsilon (TZE) is Wellesley’s art and music society. It was founded in 1889 to create a space for students to come together and share their passion for the arts and music.
TZA Co-President Alexandra Mouangue ’24 further explained the society’s aim, “We want everyone who’s interested in art to music to feel like TZE can be a place for them.”
TZE hosts at least one music event and one arts event every semester and has its own on-campus house, where members can come together for events. In addition to the arts, TZE is also focused on philanthropy. Last year, TZE collaborated with a group called A Long Walk Home to educate youth in high schools about gender identity. TZE also occasionally organizes social get-togethers for on and off-campus students.
In order to join TZE, prospective members have to attend at least three out of four teas during the tea season. Each tea — based on an arts or music theme — is a chance for prospective members to get to know the TZE executive board, and vice versa. There is also a supplemental application.
“People get really creative with [the applications],” said Mouangue. “So that’s my favorite part of the tea [process].”
TZE’s supportive community also makes it unique, as explained by TZE Co-President Ye’Amlak Zegeye ’24, “You have people around you who are always ready to support you. It’s so nice to be part of something [like this].”
Agora is Wellesley’s political society. It was started in 1890 with a mission to promote interest in important political issues and provide a platform for political advocacy.
Agora frequently hosts political lectures and events. Although Agora does not have its own house like the other societies, it often uses the Slater House for its weekly meetings. Agora also plans many social events, with many of these hosted in collaboration with other colleges such as MIT. Although the number of Agora’s off-campus social events has reduced due to COVID-19, the executive board hopes to revive this tradition. Agora also hosts occasional retreats, including one hosted in Vermont last semester.
Agora member Rin Tsavalyuk ’24 highlighted a fond memory from the trip, “[The retreat] was super fun. We actually ran into a person who was selected to Congress from Vermont — that was pretty cool.”
Like the other societies, prospective Agora members are also expected to attend around four teas, each of which is structured differently.
“[The teas] are aimed towards members getting to know the society and decide for themselves if they want to be in the society,” Tsavalyuk said.
Tsavalyuk identified Agora’s supportive community as the biggest benefit for members. “This community [is] where you truly feel supported,” said Tsavalyuk. “[You] feel this space to be like your home.”
Zeta Alpha (ZA)
Founded in 1876, Zeta Alpha (ZA), the oldest society on campus, is focused on literature. They hold various events throughout the year, some literary, some larger and more celebratory and others more intimate and relaxing.
According to Deyra Aguilar ’24, the co-president of ZA, “Every semester we hold ‘Fireside Poetry,’ where students can come and listen or read poetry that they’ve either written or can be their favorite poem. Next week we are holding a coffee house inspired by Bell Hooks’ novel ‘All About Love.’ [We’ll be] focusing on self-love and its importance within the community.”
Along with book-themed events, ZA is also involved in philanthropic work, like raising money to donate books to incarcerated people.
“We also hold more social events, like at the beginning of the year, ZA threw a big party which was quite a success,” Aguilar said.
Some ZA events are held solely for its members.
“These will be smaller events throughout the year, like a wine and cheese night or a collage night … just something that provides a break to ZA members from their busy weeks,” Aguilar said.
ZA holds four teas that are open to anyone interested in joining. Applicants have to attend three out of four events in order to apply. The first three teas comprise thirty minutes of general socializing, after which students are split off into groups and members go around answering questions related to the tea’s theme.
“Last Tuesday we had a theme about twisted fairy tales,” Aguilar said. The fourth tea is typically something more relaxed, like a collage night, which is only opened to applicants. Aguilar said, “There are lunches and dinners the whole week, in case someone could not make it to the teas.”
When selecting members, Aguilar described ZA’s main criteria as: “Do we see this person helping the space and growing with it? [Membership] is a very give and take relationship, and it has to be mutual on both fronts.” The community ZA creates is what makes it stand out. “You keep a lot of connections post-grad just being a part of ZA,” Aguilar said.
Founded in 1877, the Shakespeare Society (aka Shakes) is centered on the study of Shakespeare and his works. They put on one of Shakespeare’s plays almost every semester, most recently “Macbeth” and “Twelfth Night.” This semester, Shakes will be presenting “As You Like It.” The society organized four teas this spring, and interested students were required to attend two of them to apply. Society members did not respond to requests for comment.