Harvard and the nine final clubs decided yesterday to break all of their ties, ending nearly a year of debate over the status of the exclusive all male organizations.
After Committee on College Life members met with the nine club presidents yesterday morning, the full student-faculty body drafted a statement recommending that the College facilitate this severance "as soon as possible."
Committee Chairman John B. Fox Jr. '59, dean of the College, said after the meeting that the divorce would be completed "in the relatively near future."
"[The clubs] prefer to go their own way," Fox told the rest of the committee. "They do not aspire to status as recognized student organizations."
Fox and Dean of Students Archie C. Epps Ill, the committee's secretary, said they will consult with "other members of the administration" as they proceed.
None of the club presidents could be reached for comment last night.
Yesterday's developments resolve the question the committee has been debating since last spring that of whether the clubs should receive benefits from the College, including University steam heat. Centres telephone service, alumni mailing lists, and sophomore housing lists, while they violate its anti discrimination policy.
Although the test of their response yesterday was kept confidential, the clubs apparently did not attempt to justify their admission policy choosing rather to sever their ties with the College.
Using only 40 minutes of the hour allotted for the subject on the agenda and debating only the wording of the statement, the 12 member committee, consisting of five students and five faculty as well as Epps and Fox, unanimously recommended that the College expedite the separation.
The final version reads: "The committee notes that the final clubs, after a review of the issues, have decided to revert to their independent status.
"The committee recommends that the College accept this decision and work to achieve this end as soon as possible."
Committee members emphasized the symbolic importance of the separation, which is not expected to cause major financial problems for the clubs and affects only a small segment of the student population.
"[Decades] have passed, times have changed, and [the clubs] are really a very small minority. This won't have the impact it would have had in 1918," said committee member Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of University Health Services.
Some of the clubs may incur small financial losses when they convert to alternate heating and phone systems.
At yesterday's meeting, however, several members said they felt "the most important loss [would] be that of Dean Epps's services." Epps has informally presided over the clubs' annual punching season, in which they recruit new members.
The committee noted that its action could nullify the voluntary "interclub agreement" of decorum and order during the punching season as well as their in formal agreement with the College to behave responsibly.
But even if these agreements no longer hold, committee members emphasized that as Harvard students, club members remain subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Administrative Board.
Although many of the clubs have maintained subtle ties with the University for decades, they came under fire for the first time last spring, when the Committee on College Life questioned their exclusion of women.
In an unprecedented departure from the College's traditionally neutral stance. Epps last summer and this fall attempted to persuade the clubs to admit women for a variety of economic, social, and moral reasons.
This fall, the committee noted that only officially-recognized student groups--who have pledged non-discrimination--are entitled to special benefits of University affiliation.
Last May, the committee set a deadline of October 1, 1984 for the clubs to agree to admit women or face possible loss of ties with the College. The deadline passed quietly because 1984-5 committee members had not yet been named.
When asked for their position, the club presidents, speaking as a group, asked the committee for a one-month extension. That extension expired last week.
They were not ready to admit women, they said, but wanted time to continue debating the possibility.
Although they never requested official recognition, they asked that the College not never its ties with them, saying that they valued the association with Harvard.
The committee granted the extension, but demanded that the clubs either agree to admit women or demonstrate why they should be exempt from Harvard's anti-discrimination policy