After months of internal division over the move to go co-ed and the subsequent closure of its JFK Street clubhouse, the beleaguered Fox Club has reopened its doors and adopted a new set of rules concerning “personal conduct.”
The Fox’s clubhouse, which the graduate leadership closed in mid-November, is now “open to all members,” according to a recent email to club graduates that was obtained by The Crimson. The Fox has also instituted a new set of “Clubhouse Rules” that regulate personal conduct and guest policies, according to the email, dated January 20.
“Both the graduate and undergraduate boards have adopted an updated set of Clubhouse Rules that can be found on the home page of the website,” the Fox Club’s board of directors wrote.
The development signals a possible move towards reconciliation for a club that has been the target of both external pressures from Harvard administrators over the issue of admitting women, and contentious internal division.
In October, the undergraduate officers of the 118-year-old social club broke from tradition and accepted nine female members. The move came after top administrators, including University President Drew G. Faust, publicly criticized final clubs on the grounds of alleged gender exclusivity and the potential for alcohol abuse and sexual assault on the off-campus properties.
In a letter claiming that Harvard had “forced [their] hand,” Fox undergraduate officers, who framed the decision as one of their own, billed the change as a matter of necessity. But in the wake of that move, Fox members faced strident criticism from many graduate members who argued that undergraduates had overstepped their bounds.
A cadre of incensed Fox graduates quickly coalesced into an opposition group, naming themselves the “Friends of the Fox Club.” They called for a special meeting of club graduates, attempted to shut down the initiation of the prospective female members, and lambasted graduate and undergraduate leaders. In the face of ongoing scrutiny, undergraduates officers agreed that new members would receive a “provisional” status, pending the vote of Fox graduates.
Ten days before the special meeting, the Friends of the Fox sent a 12-page missive to Fox alumni berating the undergraduates for presenting the co-ed move as a “fait accompli.”
“Fundamentally, the Fox is run by graduates for the benefit of undergraduates and graduates alike. The undergraduates’ actions wholly miss that critical point,” they wrote.
Two days later, pictures of a controversial party circulated among alumni, and the graduate board shut down the clubhouse the following day. In the wake of internal division, the Fox graduate board president was replaced, and former graduate board member Rex G. Baker ’05 resigned. Criticizing opposition to the club’s admission of women, Baker wrote that he stepped down to avoid further “escalation of graduate aggression and misbehavior.”
The Fox’s reopening coincides with the club’s recent adoption of updated “Clubhouse Rules” that appear to address liability concerns, a persistent sticking point among club graduates who criticized the co-ed move. Although Fox members had drafted a report exploring solutions to a number of “logistical concerns” that might accompany a co-ed membership, graduates in the “Friends of the Fox” launched their own working group to research a “Path Forward.”
The new rules cover “personal conduct” and guest policies, according to the graduate board’s email.
While undergraduate members once again have access to the clubhouse, they are still unable to bring guests, according to the graduate board’s email. Undergraduates may invite family members to the house “with prior approval.”
In a separate email dated Jan. 27, the graduate board also invited members to a black-tie dinner in New York scheduled for early March.
—Staff writer C. Ramsey Fahs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ramseyfahs.