Commissioned in 1921 the Cathedral of Learning stands in the heart of Pittsburgh as the largest academic building in the Western hemisphere. Its gothic shell contains more than 2,000 classrooms, a couple falcons, and definitely a ton of ghosts, so it is no wonder that the Cathedral is such an unchallenged point of pride to the people and students of Pittsburgh alike. Yet despite her international prestige and aggressive local pride, Cathy (as she is affectionately called) fosters a unique class of students known simply and secretly as “The Cathedral Club.”
The Club is strictly speaking very secret, but many of Pitt’s students and alum are privy to its existence. It enforces no age limit, dues, or officers. Its members are proud and few, but ceremoniously connected. They do not meet, and would have no way of recognizing each other while traversing campus grounds, but many have found themselves at a party or sharing drinks with friends at Hemmingway’s Cafe, only to fall into a chance encounter with another club member. When this occurs the two (or occasionally more) are instantly bonded. They swap trained phrases, always prepared to meet another Club member and to share their story. “When did you join?”they always ask. Sometimes being so bold as to ask, “Where you ever scared of being like… caught?”
Some claim that entry into the Cathedral Clubis easier than joining Greek life. Others will swear that its elite class is harder to infiltrate than the Dean’s List. However what is incontestable is that the members of the Club form the most diverse society the University of Pittsburgh has ever born.
“People will tell you they joined the Club, but they’re just blowing [smoke] out of their [butt],” says Jonathan, a Pitt sophomore studying mechanical engineering. “A kiss on the cheek is nice, but it definitely does not equal joining the club,” Jonathan states flatly, having failed entry to the Club more times than he cares to admit.
But with all this skullduggery does anyone really know what it takes to enter the ranks of the Cathedral Club? “Penetration” offers James, a second year computer science major who joined the club this past fall. “No. That’s too vague.” he retracts immediately. “Sex. In Cathy. Intercourse is the key to unlock the door, and then you’re a lifetime member. Simple as that.”
Students such as McKenzie reject ambiguity. “How could you not know if you’re in the club!?” she exclaims. McKenzie has known of the Club’s existence since freshman orientation but glumly states, “I love having sex where you aren’t supposed to, but no I’ve never had sex in Cathy.” McKenzie studies anthropology at Pitt, and though she is not a member of the Club says that she would “be all over that at the drop of a hat.”
While McKenzie waits patiently for the stars to align, other students join the Club accidently, only to have their accomplishment sprung on them by impressed friends. “It’s not even a good story,” Sam admits. “We were just studying for a stats final in the Honor’s College on the 35th floor. It was really late and nobody was around. I don’t know, it just happened.” Sam finishes.
Though the Club has become significantly larger in the past decade many Pitt students remain in the dark, but all questioned admit unanimously, “That would be pretty [effing] cool.”
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