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Finals clubs began their annual rites of selection this week, and male undergraduates yesterday expressed a wide range of opinions on the dynamics of the month-long process and on the function of the clubs within the university.
"Punching," as the nine clubs term the traditional circuit of cocktail parties, dinners, and country outings, provides members with an opportunity to survey and evaluate invited candidates, most of whom are sophomores. At the same time, the "punchees" get a chance to explore often unfamiliar territories.
"We invite our friends to parties, and if we get along well with people, we try to get them to join," Horace D. Nalle '78, president of the Porcellian Club, said yesterday.
The crucial criterion for admission to the Owl Club, one member, who wished to remain anonymous, said yesterday, is whether the candidate is "a good guy." Roland A. Hernandez '79, punching chairman of the D.U. Club, said yesterday that his club looks for men who will fit well into the club's existing social milieu.
"You elect people if you like them and think they'll be good for the club," Hernandez said. "You can only socialize with certain people."
Several students who went through the punching process in previous years, but in the end declined membership, said yesterday that "being good for the club" is often measured in very concrete terms.
"For different clubs, it ranges from how much you can pay to how much you can drink," said one student who turned down membership in the Fly Club, and wished to remain anonymous. "The Fly likes names and riches. It's real hard-core WASP."
"The only reason clubs exist is to draw off all the assholes and put them behind high walls," he added.
Nalle said he believes the function of the Porcellian is "to bring people together for all the benefits that accrue from having close friends."
Students currently being punched also see the role of the clubs as a purely social one and attend club events in an attempt to decide whether they like the group of people.
Check It Out
"I want to check it out, see what it's like," said a student entering the D.U. cocktail party last night. "I've been punched by seven clubs. A lot of my friends joined, and it looks like a lot of fun."
Another student attending the D.U. party said, "The club provides a setting for a group of Harvard guys to play pool, hold dinners and visit Wellesley and Smith."
Clubs provide an opportunity to meet people and socialize--something some students find difficult within individual Houses, one student being punched said yesterday.
"The main deterrant for me is price," he added, a feeling shared by several other prospective members. (Membership costs for the first year are approximately $400.)
The same student said he was also uncomfortable with "the idea that once you belong to a club, all the people in it are your friends."
All the clubs will make final membership decisions in six weeks. Members vote on each candidate, and one negative vote is generally enough to veto the election of any individual.
"It's a 'blackball' election," Hernandez said. "All you have to do is say you don't like the person, though it's gentlemanly to give a reason.
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