Pudding Social Club Gets Official College Status
Members of the club, which was founded in 1795 as a 21-member secret society, plan to poster the Yard this week to advertise the fall punch.
The first round of the punch process, taking place next week, will be open to all undergraduates for the first time in the club’s history.
Associate Dean for Development Roger P. Cheever and Assistant Professor of Government J. Russell Muirhead will serve as the group’s faculty advisors.
“This is a breakthrough for Harvard. It’s the first purely social organization to be accepted as a student group,” said club President Andrea L. Olshan ’02.
The social club’s decision to apply for official student group status came after more than a year of discussion with the University, which bought the Hasty Pudding building from the group’s graduate board, the Institute of 1770, in the spring of 2000.
Student group status will allow the club to continue to use the Hasty Pudding building at 12 Holyoke St. even after renovations, slated to begin in the spring, convert the building into a state-of-the-art theater and space for student groups.
“This has become a necessity in the minds of club members and the board,” Olshan said. “We’re looking forward to a lot of compromise. It just isn’t our building any more.”
But the club’s focus will not change, Olshan noted.
“We want to be able to maintain the fun friendships intrinsic to the club at the same time as meeting new people,” she said.
The CCL, a body composed of University administrators, faculty and student representatives selected by the Undergraduate Council, voted unanimously to approve the social club as a student group. Their discussion addressed concerns about the criteria for club membership and the question of social clubs’ use of the College’s scarce student group space.
“They are primarily a social club,” Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 told CCL members. “We’ve worked with them to change their nature and become less exclusive.”
He compared the Pudding to the Signet, another college-approved, primarily social student group.
CCL members noted there are no rules that prohibit student groups with a purely social focus.
“It’s delicate, but it doesn’t look that complicated. We can only do our best to make sure the students are acting in good faith, and not discriminating,” said Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis `68.
“It would be a bit humorless of us to deny this group that’s been around for 200 years because we were shocked it turns out to be a social organization.”
Social club members guaranteed they would not discriminate on any of the bases prohibited by the College. Olshan said they copied and pasted the College’s definition of discrimination directly into the social club’s application for student group status.
“Although we’re not going to discriminate, we are being discriminating,” Olshan said. “Our first requirement is people who will be active members, who are positive about the Pudding.”
Prospective social club members will be selected after three cocktail party or luncheon events.
The club also plans to organize an annual charity event and publish a Pudding newsletter this semester.
But since since membership is not talent-based, the requirements are difficult to quantify, Olshan said.
“The key is someone who wants to make new friends and is open to people,” Olshan said.
“I’m going to want to sit across the lunch table from these people, share a drink with them at a party or sit next to them at a charity event,” she explained.
With its newly granted student group status, the social club will jockey for space in the renovated Pudding building and for College and Undergraduate Council funds.
“It’s an issue of the use of resources—whether a group whose only purpose is
to socialize effectively uses limited space,” said CCL member Jennifer S. Axsom ’04.
Olshan said she was not sure whether the social club would apply for College funds.
Lewis stated firmly at an Undergraduate Council meeting last night that the college will not reconsider its refusal to recognize single-sex social groups.
“Non-discrimination by gender is a principle that served the University well...and I am opposed to getting rid of it.”
—Staff writer Daniela J. Lamas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.