Clubs Limit Guests to Curb Risks

After almost two decades at the center of Harvard's party scene four of the eight all-male final clubs have returned to their gentlemen's club roots since January, using stricter guest policies to end the era of open parties.

And, though the clubs have always had a reputation as hangouts for the wealthy and privileged, it appears that concerns about money--the financial liability involved in serving alcohol at open parties--have forced the clubs to make these changes.

MIT first-year Scott M. Krueger's death from alcohol poisoning at a fraternity house in 1997, after which the fraternity was charged with manslaughter, has made the danger to Harvard clubs more clear.

After the MIT incident, final club members say, their graduate boards became more wary of open party policies knowing that they could be held responsible--both financially and criminally--if a similar incident were to occur at one of the clubs.

And, while three clubs still maintain more lax guest policies, final club members and graduate board members say they may not stay that way for long.


The Dominoes Fall

On Jan. 20 the A.D. club made the first move.

The club's graduate board, after some consultation with undergraduate members, decided the liability involved in remaining open to the public was too high.

They closed the club's doors to non-members with the exception of a handful of special events.

Before this change, only the Porcellian club, the oldest of the institutions, had comparable restrictions. The Porcellian does not allow open parties, and non-members are permitted only to enter a small "bicycle room" on the club's ground floor.

But once the A.D. made the switch, the dominoes began to fall.

The next week the Owl club implemented a trial closure for the month of February while debating whether it should follow suit.

After three weeks of experimenting with thechange, the Owl decided to extend the ban onnon-members indefinitely.

Influenced by the other clubs' moves, thePhoenix S.K. club also decided to bar non-membersin a policy effective April 1.

The Delphic club, while not barring non-memberscompletely, tightened its guest policies so thatmembers could invite only two guests--only one ofwhom could be male. Members say the Delphic hasalso committed to stricter enforcement.

Two other clubs, the Spee and the Fox, haveboth had general meetings to discuss similarchanges in the last month. Neither has yetannounced a policy change.

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