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Epps' Letter Cites Growing Dangers In Final Clubs

Dean and Club Leaders Clash Over Report

By Lisa N. Brennan-jobs

Citing a disturbing increase in dangerous student behavior at final clubs, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III issued a report yesterday warning students about the organizations.

Incidents mentioned in the report include several drug deals at one club, a drunken student who was attached, repeated reports of sexual harassment, a complaint about lewd sexual acts performed by hired women and three incidents of underage drinking (for the full letter, see page 9).

Students put themselves at risk when they attend club-sponsored events, Epps said in a phone interview.

"We're trying to construct means of prevention and safety that will avoid tragedy," he said. "We're not happy waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for the next tragedy to happen."

Douglas W. Sears '69, executive director of the Interclub Council which acts as the governing body of final clubs, bitterly denounced Epps' motives.

Calling the report "whiny, patently self-serving, smug and patronizing," Sears, who said he was speaking only for himself and not as a representative of the clubs, said the report could sour future relations between the College and final clubs.

Epps issued the report following a Sept. 29 meeting between the Interclub Council and the administration on the issues that "failed to get translated into actual policy," he said.

In the letter, Epps proposed two measures he had recommended at the September meeting--adult supervision and "bonded bartenders" at the clubs--as solutions to many disciplinary problems.

Sears said the recent incidents of misconduct were the responsibility of the College rather than the Interclub Council.

The Interclub Council has no authority to enforce rules, but can only set guidelines, according to Sears.

Sears blamed Epps for writing a report rather than taking disciplinary action.

"As dean of students, he's mandated to take disciplinary action," Sears said. "If Archie feels that action should be taken, he should go ahead and do it."

Epps agreed that "Harvard students are liable to the rules of the College wherever they are."

But he added that the goal of the report was to encourage prevention, rather than discuss punishment.

"I am not directly responsible for the conduct at those institutions," Epps said. But he also wrote in the report that, "the College will not hesitate to bring illegal activities in final clubs to the attention of police."

When the final clubs became independent from the college in December, 1984 (because clubs refused to follow the College's nondiscrimination policies and admit female members), the College also relinquished much of its power over the clubs.

"We knew that ironically we were buying more problems because it gave us less supervision," Epps said.

Sears dubbed the final clubs the campus scapegoats, calling them the "last socially acceptable group to discriminate against." He said that dorms and on-campus houses suffered from the same problems as the final clubs.

The formation of the clubs, he said, "[is] reflective of Harvard's failed social policy at not being able to provide places for undergraduates to go, where people can have as much fun."

Epps said the increase in inappropriate behavior cited by the report was due to the college being "strict on alcohol--finals clubs are] where people go to drink."

Most of the incidents cited on the report involve alcohol. Many final club members contacted by The Crimson refused to comment on the report.

R.J. Lyman '86, the graduate secretary of the Fly Club, affirmed his club's commitment to enforcing appropriate behavior by its members.

"As would the College, the Fly Club Graduate Council would take appropriate disciplinary action if any members behaved inappropriately," he said

Sears dubbed the final clubs the campus scapegoats, calling them the "last socially acceptable group to discriminate against." He said that dorms and on-campus houses suffered from the same problems as the final clubs.

The formation of the clubs, he said, "[is] reflective of Harvard's failed social policy at not being able to provide places for undergraduates to go, where people can have as much fun."

Epps said the increase in inappropriate behavior cited by the report was due to the college being "strict on alcohol--finals clubs are] where people go to drink."

Most of the incidents cited on the report involve alcohol. Many final club members contacted by The Crimson refused to comment on the report.

R.J. Lyman '86, the graduate secretary of the Fly Club, affirmed his club's commitment to enforcing appropriate behavior by its members.

"As would the College, the Fly Club Graduate Council would take appropriate disciplinary action if any members behaved inappropriately," he said

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