Grads Close Spee Club After Party Policies Ignored

Members banned from club indefinitely as they await board’s final decision

The lights were out, the blinds drawn and the doors to 76 Mt. Auburn St. locked this Saturday, as the Spee Club remained closed—even to members—following alumni concerns about a party held there earlier this month.

Members and non-members alike have been barred from the finals club since its graduate board—the group of alums who control the Spee’s property—had the front door lock changed two weeks ago.

The board has not said when the club will be reopened, but a handful of undergraduate members will meet with the alums tomorrow evening to discuss a possible resolution.

Several Spee members, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the graduate board closed the club because of liability concerns stemming from the presence of non-members at a club party.

On Feb. 1, the club hosted a Chinese New Year-themed party. On Feb. 10, the 51 active student club members found themselves locked out and have not been allowed access since.

According to estimates by members and others present, between 100 and several hundred students were present at the party, which honored a member who graduated from the College in January.

Last fall the Spee changed its official policy of allowing 12 guests in the club at any given time, to one that bans non-members altogether.

That move came in concert with other clubs whose graduate boards voiced—to widespread undergraduate opposition—their intention to tighten guest policies.

The 1997 alcohol poisoning-related death of MIT first-year Scott Krueger—and MIT’s agreement last September to a $6 million settlement and partial admission of responsibility in the case—have heightened concerns about the extent of a club’s responsibility for injuries occurring on their property.

But Spee members said they were nonetheless confused by the lock-down of 76 Mt. Auburn. They said the party was not significantly larger than other parties held by finals clubs or by the Spee in the past. And they said they did not know why the alums had chosen to close the club at this time.

“It was certainly no bigger than the parties you find at every finals club, except the Porcellian, every weekend,” one member said. “We’re all very unhappy without our club and hope that the graduate board will understand how important it is for us and for the club itself that the Spee re-open soon.”

The initial lock-out prompted a flurry of messages on “speemail,” the e-mail discussion forum for club members. One angry member went so far as to propose that all members resign from the club in protest—a suggestion that was quickly dismissed by the rest of the club, two Spee members said.

Most club members contacted by The Crimson declined to comment for this story. An e-mail was sent yesterday to Spee members reminding them not to speak to members of the press, a stipulation which members must agree to in their initial contract with the club.

The club’s current president, Daniel Z. Levine ’03, could not be reached for comment.

Mark S. Hruby ’78, the Spee’s graduate board secretary, declined to comment for this story, saying that the club’s matters were private. Graduate Board President Arthur C. Anton Jr. ’81 did not return a phone call.

This is not the first time the Spee’s graduate board has shut out members. In May 1999, the alumni closed the building to members during Commencement, over fears that graduating seniors would not treat the building respectfully.

—Staff writer J. Hale Russell can be reached at jrussell@fas.harvard.edu.