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This evening, the Hasty Pudding Social Club will hold the final event of a three-night initiation for its 42 new members.
This marked the second time its punch process has been open to all students—a change the club made last year to receive official student group status from the College.
But some students who attended punch events this fall question whether the College-mandated open punch has achieved its goals of making membership in the 207-year-old club accessible to all students.
Last winter, the social club postered the Yard and Houses to advertise the initial punch event. But this fall, a number of students said they did not see any posters prior to the first event, held on Sept. 30.
“I saw no publicity,” said Samuel J. Browning ’05, who said he attended the first event after hearing about it from friends.
Hilary S. Thorndike ’05, who was invited to join the club, said she was surprised by the lack of publicity for the punch.
“I was wondering if it was an open punch because I didn’t see any posters. A lot of it was people knowing other people,” said Thorndike, who said she heard about the event from friends already in the club.
But Pudding President Andrea P. Nadosy ’03 said the group did mount a successful postering effort to advertise its punch.
“Our posters attracted a larger and more diverse crowd than in previous years,” she said.
According to Nadosy, 180 students attended the first punch event, up from around 100 last year.
But out of those who attended, many say that it seemed prior friendships or siblings’ membership largely determined whether they were asked back for the second event.
Sarah G. Heyward ’06, who was invited to join, said many students at the first event had friends or older siblings already in the club. She said the students attending the event still seemed like a diverse group.
“I knew the president and it wasn’t guaranteed at all that I was going to get in,” she said.
Last year, when the club applied for official student group status, then-President Andrea L. Olshan ’02 said an open punch would not change the institution’s focus.
“We ask you what activities you’re interested in, what distinguishes you and makes you a person I want to be in a party with or I want to have lunch with,” Olshan said at the time.
Official student group status for the Pudding, which began in 1795 as a 21-member secret society, allows the club to continue using its 12 Holyoke St. building, which the College bought in 2000.
Associate Dean of the College David P. Illingworth ’71 said that since the Committee on College Life (CCL) granted the club student group status last winter, he has not heard any complaints about violations of the College’s anti-discrimination policies.
“They promised not to do [that] in their constitution, or else they would not have been approved,” he said.
When the club was up for approval by the College last winter, some students questioned whether subjective selection based on social criteria could possibly be fair.
Jennifer S. Axsom ’04, who was on CCL then, compared the Pudding’s selection process to that of an a cappella group that holds open auditions for just a few slots.
She said there’s an inherent difference between singing and being social. But she said that ultimately CCL trusts the groups to comply with their constitutions without much oversight.
“There’s always a good faith assumption,” she said.
—Staff writer Emily A. Anderson can be reached at email@example.com.
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