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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained

New President Heads The Spee

Final club elects its first African-American president

By Nicole B. Urken, Crimson Staff Writer

The Spee kicked off the year with the election of Randall J. Winston ’04-’05, who will be the club’s first African-American president.

Winston declined comment for this story, but his friends said he does not think about race in relation to the Spee.

Winston just joined the Spee last fall and has already risen to the top.

He did not show much interest in final clubs until recently, says his friend and blockmate David M. Lippin ’04.

Lippin said Randall’s late-blooming involvement makes him more grounded.

“He is good friends with a lot of guys in the club, but it’s not like the club defines him,” Lee H. Teslik ’05, a friend of Winston, wrote in an e-mail.

WINSTON’S WORLD

Hailing from Redlands, Calif., Winston is very much in touch with his family, including his four brothers and sisters, according to Lippin.

This closeness with his family seems to speaks to his softer side, according to friends.

“Randall is a pensive person. He really thinks through what he is doing and even keeps a journal, which he writes in often,” Lippin says. “On the one hand he is very social and on the other hand, he is a very introspective and introverted person.”

In fact, Winston took a semester off last spring to read Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in Copenhagen.

“He doesn’t do anything half way,” says Peter P. M. Buttigieg ’04, who knows Winston primarily from his involvement in the Institute of Politics (IOP).

While his trip to Denmark was largely motivated by a desire to explore Danish philosophy, Winston also managed to explore other Danish attractions. He had a brief relationship with the Danish Prime Minister’s daughter and was captured in a tabloid photo, according to Buttigieg.

Winston spent hours during his sophomore year as chair of the IOP study groups. Winston also spent a summer working for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56, D-Mass., in Washington D.C.

While Winston has intensely pursued his studies, he still finds time for the fashion.

“Let’s just say that for someone who’s into philosophy, he’s a good dresser,” Buttigieg says.

Winston has assumed extracurricular leadership roles since high school. In a mock government program in California, Winston was elected governor of the group of 2,000 students.

“Randall values fairness,” says Carolyn E. Davies ’04, a friend of Winston who participated in the high school legislature program with him. “I can’t think of a better model for a leader.”

“He captivated a room of 2,000 people with his charm,” says Leila Chirayath ’04-’05, another friend California legislature program member. “I’ve admired him since the moment I met him.”

The Spee, which was founded in 1853, was the first club to accept an African-American member—Frank Snowden ’68—according to a Spee member who did not want to be identified.

The Spee was also the first final club to accept a Jewish member, the member said.

In addition, John F. Kennedy ’40, who was a Spee member from 1938-1940, was able to join the Spee despite being a Catholic at a time when some of the other clubs did not accept Catholics.

—Staff writer Nicole B. Urken can be reached at urken@fas.harvard.edu.

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