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Messages from the clandestine Mufti group

Mufti--a name that literally means "out of uniform" or "undressed"--has been a long-standing tradition on the Pomona campus. The clandestine group has been active since the late 1940s, periodically plastering campus with cryptic messages, or "burgers," around campus. Since the only people who really know anything about Mufti can't discuss it, however, that's about all we really know-everything else is speculation and rumor.

The actual Mufti "burger" is not difficult to produce, aesthetically speaking. It consists of a piece of paper, about a third of the size of a standard sheet. Most Muftis contain three messages: a phrase in the top left corner, a message in all caps in the middle, and a third short phrase, usually including the name "Mufti," in the bottom right. Sounds simple, but it isn't. The messages are rich with double and triple entendres, delicately balanced with literary references, pop-culture allusions, and sexual innuendoes. 

In response to the planned demolition of Holmes Hall in the late '80s, to make room for Alexander Hall, Mufti declared:

"87 grads say Centennial has no class BLAST OF A CENTURY LEAVES THOUSANDS HOLMELESS Mufti levels destructive criticism"

With replicas plastered all over campus, such cryptic messages provide a piquant commentary to daily Pomona life.

As Pomona's best-known secret society (How's that for an oxymoron?), Mufti has left an indelible mark-both figuratively and literally. Around campus, old sticker outlines can still be seen, some with remnants of paper still attached to the adhesive. In fact, the "glue issue" has been the one enduring conflict between the College and Mufti. The adhesive used to plaster the "burgers" over campus is not easily removed, and College administrators have tried many tactics to persuade the group to make their statements less permanent. At one point, former Dean Shelton Beatty offered to post the Mufti fliers himself, just to ensure that the glue would not damage the buildings. A few days after his offer, a stack of Mufti fliers appeared in his locked office. The message simply read, "Mufti comes unglued." True to his word, Dean Beatty made his rounds of campus, posting the fliers with a more water-soluble adhesive. However, this compromise did not last. The following week, "burgers" again appeared with the message, "Mufti stuck up again." 

Among students, the Mufti tradition has been perpetuated through a word-of-mouth campaign, passed down by older students to the incoming class. Sponsors whisper to first-years that the only way to find out what Mufti really entails is to catch the members posting their fliers in the middle of the night. Stories abound of sleepless nights spent anticipating the next Mufti strike.