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The graduate presidents of Harvard's nine final clubs yesterday voted to prohibit alcohol from the remainder of this fall's "punching" process and earlier this week moved to ban kegs from the clubs altogether, several undergraduate club presidents said last night.
According to two club presidents who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Inter-Club Council, which includes a graduate president from each of the nine clubs, is telling the clubs not to serve alcohol during this fall's member selection process--a process known as punching.
On Tuesday, the alumni council voted in favor of banning beer kegs from the clubs, several club presidents said. In addition, one president said, the council will likely meet this week to discuss whether to keep guests out of the clubs.
That president said that many club officials are considering "almost completely fad[ing] out of the social scene" at Harvard. He said that many of the clubs have discussed adopting a policy similar to one used by the Porcellian Club, which reportedly allows only members inside.
None of the graduate presidents could not be reached for comment, but the undergraduate presidents contacted last night attributed the changes to rising concerns about liability and increased pressure from federal and local government. It was not clear whether the University had played a role in the graduate board actions, but the presidents said club alumni were becoming aware of "increasing pressure from all sides."
Club presidents dismissed rumors that incidents of alcohol abuse at last weekend's club parties prompted the alumni action.
"The issue has been bugging these guys [on the alumni council] for a long time," one president said.
The undergraduate club presidents have already met to discuss the new measures, and, according to several presidents, most did not oppose them.
"I think it's probably a pretty good idea," one president said, referring to the dry punch policy. He said that "punches" often drink more alcohol than usual to impress club members and that punches would get to know the club better if they were sober.
J. Alden Millard '91, who is president of the Spee Club, said he had not yet heard about the dry punch policy, but said that he was notified Tuesday about the keg policy.
"It didn't come as a large surprise to me. Obviously, liability concerns were involved," Millard said.
One final club president said he opposed the ban on kegs, adding that it might still be "up for negotiation" in light of the decision to institute a dry punch.
"I think that [the keg ban] is an inefficient way to treat a problem," he said. "If anything, it will just increase the use of hard alcohol."
But other final club presidents said they were fairly certain the keg ban would stick.
The presidents contacted last night differed on how greatly the policy changes would affect the clubs' role in campus social life. About 10 percent of male undergraduates are members of the final clubs, which are not officially affiliated with the University.
"I think it will have some effect on social life at Harvard as a whole," one president said, noting that the College this fall has tightened its alcohol policies for dormitories.
But several of the presidents said the policy change was probably a wise one.
"I think it's to the point now where the members realize that they have to comply with the law," he said. "There's always some resentment, though."
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