The Spee Club has elected a Negro, Frank M. Snowden '68, of Eliot House and Washington, D.C. He is believed to be the first Negro to accept membership in a final club at Harvard.
Snowden declined to comment on the matter. Giles M. Whicomb '66, undergraduate president of the Spee, issued the following written statement:
"Frank Snowden is a member of the Spee Club. The Spee Club, a private organization, has always felt any discussion of its members to be inappropriate, We believe that there is no reason for a departure from this attitude in this particular case."
Whitcomb did not comment further.
Dean Watson said yesterday that none of the clubs has a discriminatory clause in its constitution. "Harvard would certainly refuse to recognize any undergraduates organization that did," he said.
Final clubs are recognized as undergraduate organizations. Roughly 10 per cent of the college belongs.
The question of de facto discrimination has been raised, however. In 1963 the Harvard-Radcliffe Association of African and Afro-American Students sought recognition with a constitution effectively excluding whites. The University refused, and AAAAS substituted a membership-by-election clause. This was commonly --though not officially -- regarded as a means of exclusion analogous to the one which final clubs were alleged to use.
In most clubs, one to three black balls are sufficient to block a person's election.
Members of various clubs suggested that their graduates, who help finance the clubs' operations, would be reluctant to admit Negroes.
William C. Coleman III '66, undergraduate president of the Delphic Club, made the following comment:
"I don't want to say that this is a precedent that all the clubs at Harvard should follow, or that the Delphic Club is definitely going to take in a Negro, or a Chinese, or whatever. I think as far as the clubs are concerned within the context of Harvard University, this is a good thing. It is an indication that clubs are not as exclusive -- in any sense, not just racially -- as people have tended to think they are."
Jay P. Monge '66, undergraduate president of the D.U. Club, said that although the club has never had a Negro member, it has no policy of discrimination. He added that if a Negro were ever put up for membership, there would be no objection on racial grounds, either from the undergraduate members or from the alumni.
"I believe the time will come," he said, "and in the near future, when a sizable proportion of the clubs will have Negro members."