College Targets Final Clubs

Once upon a time, T.S. Eliot '09 drunkenly composed verse after verse for his clubmates at the Fox, fondly dedicating his outpourings "to the boys."

But decades later, Harvard's fertile relationship with the final clubs has turned to a desolate wasteland.

The remaining eight all-male final clubs this year have encountered intense scrutiny not seen since the University severed its ties with the clubs in 1984.

The clubs have come under attack from administrators and students alike and facing competition from Harvard's first thriving fraternity in recent memory.

College administrators' growing concern over the clubs' increasingly dominant role in Harvard's social scene culminated in a report issued in February by Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III.


The report, addressed to the College at large but pre-released to graduate leaders of the clubs, enumerated several incidents of "inappropriate behavior occurring at various final clubs" to warn students considering joining or visiting one of the social organizations.

The laundry list of allegations in the report included several suspected drug deals at one club, a reported attack by a first-year who became drunk while visiting a club, repeated reports of sexual harassment, a complaint about lewd sexual acts performed by hired women and a complaint from a parent who said her son had been the victim of hazing by a club.

Epps' decision to publicly denounce the clubs stemmed from the unsatisfactory results of months of discussions between College administrators and the clubs' graduate leaders.

In a meeting last September, Epps presented his concerns to the Inter-Club Graduate Council, which consists of each club's graduate presidents.

But Epps said the issues discussed in the meeting "failed to get translated into actual policy."

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

Epps said he and Douglas W. Sears '69, executive director of the Inter-Club Council, spoke "several times" last summer about "various safety issues which included the availability of alcohol to people who were underage."

As a result, the Inter-Club Council agreed in a July meeting to ban kegs in the clubs, to limit each club member to two guests at any time except parties, to require members to register visitors and to hold members responsible for the behavior and safety of their visitors.

But neither Epps nor the Inter-Club Council seemed willing to take responsibility for the behavior of students at club parties.

Although the Inter-Club Council has no authority to enforce rules it can only set guidelines, according to Sears.

Epps, too, said he is in many ways, powerless.

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