At Georgetown, only one organization can inspire that kind of mayhem: the Second Stewards Society.
The all-male group, which doesn’t identify its members or detail its activities, has long been a source of rumor and controversy on the 104-acre campus, where some students harbor suspicions that group members are pushing a right-wing political agenda — charges the Stewards call absurd.
The last time the society made big news was back in the late 1980s, when, after students’ complaints about elitism and sexism, the Stewards declared themselves dead. Now, thanks to an anonymous blogger with the very Washington moniker “Steward Throat,” the Stewards are back at the center of Hoya scuttlebutt. The most entertaining conspiracy theories — cabals, power grabs, sinister alliances — sound a lot like a campus version of “House of Cards,” the Netflix political drama.
“Whenever our name comes up, immediately a lot of people come to the conclusion that something must be awry,” acknowledged Chief Steward Sam Schneider, a Montgomery County senior who is authorized to speak to the media on the group’s behalf. Some people think that the Stewards are seeking political power, he said, “but that’s simply not true. Our anonymity is about our public service. We find that not taking credit for service can be much more rewarding, in the same way people make anonymous donations to buildings.”
By no means do the Stewards possess the lore of Yale University’s fabled Skull and Bones, whose alumni include the Bush presidents — George H.W. and George W. — and Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
The Stewards were co-founded in 1982 by prominent Washington lawyer Manuel Miranda, whose headline-making career as a GOP congressional aide and State Department diplomat has shaped the Stewards’ reputation for conservatism.
In 1992, Miranda spearheaded a successful campaign with the Vatican to compel Georgetown, the nation’s oldest Catholic university, to defund a student club that supported abortion rights.
Miranda said misperceptions about the group are the result of its support for Georgetown’s Catholic traditions. “Some of the projects we’re associated with are Catholic, but we don’t view them as political,” Miranda said. “We view them as honoring Georgetown’s Catholic identity.”