Final Club Leaders, Overseers Discuss Single-Sex Policy

Meeting Friendly and Open

The Board of Overseers' Committee on Institutional Policy has met with the undergraduate presidents of Harvard's nine final clubs to discuss the clubs' single-sex membership policy and their role within the social life of the College.

University Secretary Michael W. Roberts and Harvard Alumni Association Executive Director John P. Reardon '60 were also at the meeting, which took place on Saturday, December 5.

The meeting is the second the committee has held on the issue. Last June, members spoke to the clubs' graduate presidents.

The two and a half hour luncheon at Wadsworth House was friendly and open, said a student participant who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The discussion was led by Overseer Arthur L. Liman '54, who chairs the Institutional Policy Committee.

Reardon, who acknowledged he was present at the meeting, said only "I'm not going to discuss that meeting." Liman did not return a phone call.


Arthur A. Hartman '47, president of the Board of Overseers, said he was not at the meeting and is not aware of what happened there.

Roberts said last night that the meeting was an informal gathering of some members of the Institutional Policy Committee and some final club presidents.

"The clubs are and have been a subject of interest and concern to the board," Roberts said. He said the purpose of the meeting was to inform the overseers and allow them a chance to discuss the clubs.

Roberts said he knew of no particular factor that caused the meeting, but said the talk was part of "an ongoing dialogue."

Although the Overseers want the clubs to admit women, no pressure was put on the club members, the student said. The meeting produced no concrete result, he said, and clubs will decide individually whether or not to change admissions procedures.

The consensus of the club presidents was that eventually some of the clubs will admit women but not all, and not immediately, he said.

Several final club presidents refused to comment or did not return phone calls yesterday.

The student who did speak said the meeting was valuable as an opportunity for communication between Harvard authorities and the clubs. The College officially broke its ties to the clubs in 1985 because of their policies of discriminating against women.

Another opinion voiced by many at the meeting was that reform in the final clubs will not change fundamental flaws in the broader realm of Harvard student social life, the club member said.

The Institutional Policy Committee is one ofabout a dozen standing committees of the Board ofOverseers. It handles non-academic, non-financialmatters.

College officials reached last night said theyweren't involved in the Overseers' plans to meetwith the final club presidents.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said helearned about the meeting after it happened, andDean of Students Archie C. Epps III said he wasnot told at all.

Both deans said that such meetings are wellwithin the scope of the Overseer's powers as theUniversity's oldest governing authority.

"They have a pretty broad mandate to visit anypart of the University," said Epps. "If it bringsabout a change, so much the better."

Epps and Jewett said they have no plans to meetwith the clubs.

Gady A. Epstein and Ira E. Stoll contributedto the reporting of this story.