Pulling Back the Curtain on the Invisible 200

By Jason Arican '15

Last winter, I walked into the student lounge with the same, distinct mannerisms of any other first year student who has only been on campus for a few months: taking slow, deliberate steps while furiously looking around to try and find a familiar face, lest I sit alone like a castaway.

I made eye contact with someone who barely smiled back. It was as if he was trying to say something in between "don't come over here" and "do I know you?", which I thought was strange since we were roommates at LOR. With the self-awareness of a toddler, I sped over to the couches and plopped down. I remember this all so vividly because what I experienced was fascinating.

For one, I was sitting amongst was a group of 8 to 10 people that I didn't know. This is not to say that I was the most popular person at Booth but, I don't know, I was probably top 5? So anyway it struck me as odd that I didn't even recognize any of these guys. The second thing that grabbed my attention was that they had the televisions on because I can't remember a time before or since that I have seen anyone watching the TVs in the student lounge. (I don't even know how to turn them on! Are there remotes somewhere?) And while the Harper Center was ablaze with soon-to-be bankers and consultants running around in suits, this group was rebelliously dressed in jeans and polos as if recruiting was the furthest thing from their mind.

They joked as if they had known each other for years. There was a sense that this corner of the student lounge was closed for a few hours - their own hazy speakeasy that I somehow got into without knowing the password.

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I could not help but be reminded of the famous photo of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Frank Sinatra sharing a laugh and a cigarette. They were the coolest people around, and I was just hanging out in the background with a hand on Martin’s shoulder and my face cropped out of the picture. I didn't realize this at the time, but it was a rare encounter with The Invisible 200.

The theory is that there are 200 people in each class who are seldom seen by other students. They recruit for random, exotic jobs (middle market private equity is entry level here), they don't eat at Kolver, and they certainly don't go to TNDC. You won't see them on the Metra because they drive to class and/or own jet packs. Since that fateful day last year, I have been intrigued by this group and am now determined to learn more. I have received limited access and, over the course of the next few weeks, I will be embedded in The Invisible 200. They have allowed me to interview them (anonymously of course) and spend time shadowing their members. My purpose is twofold. A) Find out if this is a secret society that is mysteriously pulling the strings of administration and B) get rides home from Harper. But if I don't show up to Macro next week, it will be because I found out too much. I am only 80% joking.

I will dutifully report back.