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Over 100 tailored, well-coiffed punches crowded into the now college-owned Hasty Pudding building Monday evening for the first open, advertised punch in the club’s 206-year history—a much-touted event for a club that began in 1795 as a 21-member secret society.
“As president, it was very encouraging that so many people came out without being punched,” said Social Club President Andrea L. Olshan ’02. “It was very heartwarming and reassuring for me. It’s been a rough ride.”
Club officials said the evening event, where students chatted and nibbled on crackers, fruit and peanuts, did not feel too different than in past years, despite the open punch.
“I think it felt about the same...but if it hadn’t been open, I probably would have known a lot of the people who showed up,” said Alumnae Coordinator Jessica S. Tisch ’03. “As it was, a lot of people showed up who I had never met before.”
The social club’s decision to apply for official student group status came after more than a year of discussion with the University.
Harvard bought the Hasty Pudding building from the group’s graduate board, the Institute of 1770, in the spring of 2000.
Student group status will allow the club to continue to use the 12 Holyoke St. building even after renovations convert the building into a state-of-the-art theater and space for student groups.
Olshan said members of the social institution postered the Yard and Houses in preparation for Monday night’s punch.
The green and white posters with simple black lettering read “The President and Officers of the Hasty Pudding Club Invite You to Attend Our First Open House.”
The poster described proper dress as “business attire.”
In addition to the postering, club members were “encouraged” to invite their friends to the event, said Treasurer Sarah M. Mercer ’04.
From 7 to 9 p.m., prospective punches filed into the storied Pudding building, lining up in the wood-paneled “Members Room” to fill out a simple application on cream-colored paper.
Adorned with a Hasty Pudding seal, the application asked potential punches their names, contact information and extracurricular activities.
As interested students filled out applications, one club officer advised them to mention whether their parents or siblings were members of the club.
Behind the bar, another Pudding officer poured non-alcoholic soft drinks because in a college-owned building, students have to hire a bartender in order to serve drinks.
But Olshan said the lack of alcohol at this year’s event was not a drawback.
“In every past year the president has always told the membership committee not to drink during the events,” she said. “Besides, if you can’t handle alcohol and within an hour are falling down on an officer, this is not the place for you.”
Even the number of prospective punches seemed comparable to past years, Olshan said.
Generally, each member of the 150-member club can punch one or two friends, a process that brings about 150 punches.
This year’s number was a relief, Olshan said.
“We had no idea what to expect and we were thrilled with the outcome,” she said. “If more people had come, it would have been crowded. It really was an ideal situation, I think.”
And many of these punches were new to the Pudding Social Club, Olshan said.
Mercer said she was pleased to note the number of punches asking her questions about the club.
“This is different than the mentality during a closed punch—that people who are punched would definitely want to join. These people wanted to find out what it was about.”
But for a first-year who attended the event Monday night the punch seemed somewhat “harrowing.”
“The crowd was not a cross-section of Harvard,” the student said. “The ‘pretty -girl’ population was definitely there.”
But Elizabeth A. Shields ’04, who said she came to Monday’s event after seeing signs and talking to friends in the club, said she did not feel pressured by a need to network.
“It was totally low-key, a lot of people were just hanging out,” she said. “It seemed like a cocktail event, people were dressed up and there to see their friends, and meet people.
“You didn’t have to run around trying to impress people,” she continued. “It was a fun little get-together.”
According to Olshan, club officers plan to choose about 50 or 60 of the 120 punches. The second event is scheduled for tomorrow.
—Staff Writer Daniela J. Lamas can be reached at email@example.com.
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