‘The Ancient and Honorable’ Jefferson Literary and Debating Society

The Jefferson Literary and Debating Society is the oldest student-run organization at the University of Virginia, a forum where speech, literature, and the matters of the day are all discussed among good company.  This is an organization dedicated to open discussion and respectful debate, flowery prose and rigorous science, self-improvement and good fun.

The Jefferson Society is inviting all students at the University of Virginia to interview for membership at the beginning of the Spring semester. Members of the Jefferson Society come from all parts of the University, including undergraduate programs, the Law School, Darden, Batten, and PhD programs. In the past, the Jefferson Society has served as an intellectual home at the University for a future U.S. President, Senators, a Nobel Laureate, and world-famous poets. As a literary and debating society, the members of the Jefferson Society meet weekly on Friday nights to deliver speeches on topics that impassion them, to debate over pressing matters facing the University or the country, to discuss the literature of today or of antiquity, and to converse with friends, old and new. If this seems like a place for you, please fill out an interview card and come interview at the beginning of the semester for a chance to join our storied membership.

If you have any questions regarding our interview week, our membership process, or the Jefferson Society in general, please contact our Historian Mr. Kelly O’Meara

A Welcome from our President

Since our founding in 1825, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society has served as a home for debate and literary expression for the University of Virginia. More importantly, for its members, the Society has served as a place to forge lifelong friendships and find a community during our time at dear old UVA. 

Our most cherished principle, as expressed in our oath, is that the faculties of the mind are excited by collision. At the Jefferson Society, we firmly believe in the free expression and clash of ideas. This means that at every meeting, every member is free to present their ideas, but they are not protected from pushback or argument. 

Naturally, there is also no limit on these ideas. If you attend one of our meetings, you will hear a wide range of topics. It is not unusual to hear a presentation on a favorite sports team followed by a discussion of the legal ramifications of the Supreme Court’s latest decision or the latest advancements in Machine Learning. This is part of what makes the Society so fun – it presents an opportunity to hear and discuss the topics that you and your fellow members are truly passionate about. 

The Society is also so much more than our meetings. Becoming a member of the Society means you will have found a community. Some of my fondest memories are attending UVA Basketball or Football games with fellow Society members, or even just grabbing lunch together at a dining hall. 

If you are interested in joining us, feel free to interview this January or attend one of our meetings in Jefferson Hall this semester. 

Haec Olim Meminisse Iuvabit,

Mr. Aditya Kumar

President, Spring 2023