Kennedy Ends His Final Club Ties

Senator withdraws from Owl Club after conservatives criticized his membership

Senator Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56 has severed his ties to the all-male Owl Club, a spokeswoman for the eighth-term Massachusetts Democrat told The Crimson today.

Kennedy’s affiliation with the Harvard final club drew national attention after the senator criticized Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr. for having once joined Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP), which opposed the integration of women at Alito’s alma mater.

An article in the Washington Times on Thursday morning first drew attention to Kennedy’s Owl Club ties. Later that day, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said on his broadcast: “Do you remember what the Owl Club was? Exactly what [Kennedy] was trying to make people think that CAP was at Princeton: a bunch of rich white kids who only wanted to associate with themselves.”

Kennedy spokeswoman Laura Capps called the comparison between Harvard’s Owl Club and the Princeton alumni group “absurd.”

"Senator Kennedy joined Harvard's OWL club in 1954 before women were admitted to the campus and long before they were integrated into campus life,” Capps wrote in an e-mail today. “He has decided to discontinue his membership, believing that it is a mistake to continue to be affiliated.”

“No one can question Senator Kennedy's lifelong commitment to fighting for civil rights, equality and justice,” the spokeswoman wrote. “And it is absolutely absurd to compare this social organization with CAP, a political organization established to keep women and minorities out of Princeton," she added.

Harvard severed official ties with the final clubs in 1984 because the clubs would not agree admit women. At the time, the University cited Title IX of the 1972 Higher Education Act, a federal law which Kennedy supported.

Two of the senator’s older brothers, President John F. Kennedy ’40 and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy ’48, were members of another all-male Harvard final club, the Spee.

And President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Class of 1904, joined the all-male Fly after a painful rejection by the Porcellian, the oldest and reputedly most exclusive of the final clubs.

--Staff writer Javier C. Hernandez reported this story.

--Check www.thecrimson.com for updates.